Scientists have found that bee diversity is higher in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern, and that bees prefer temperate regions over the tropics. This discovery was made by the team analysing nearly 6 million public records of where individual species have appeared around the world, leading to the creation of the first global distribution map for bees. 

The project, published in the journal Cell Biology, contradicts most plant and animal distribution patterns, where diversity tends to be highest in the tropics and diminishes towards the poles. 

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map distribution bees

This map of the global distribution of bees above shows that bees prefer arid, temperate regions rather than the tropics. Areas with darker colours have more species (Source: Cell Biology).

John Ascher, a biologist at the National University of Singapore and senior author of the study, says, “People think of bees as just honey bees, bumble bees, and maybe a few others, but there are more species of bees than of birds and animals combined.”

Michael Orr, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead author of the study, said to CNN, Climate change poses a large threat to many species. But that’s going to be irrelevant if we don’t protect the habitats of species that are being destroyed now.”