A global map of the distribution of 20,000 bee species has been created to aid in the conservation of the insect.
To create their map, researchers in China and Singapore compared data about the occurrence of individual bee species with a checklist of over 20,000 species.
“Here we combine millions of records to create the first maps of global bee richness, and understand why we see these patterns,” Alice Hughes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Yunnan told the BBC.
“These maps, and our framework, can then form the basis of future work, enabling us to better understand patterns of bee richness and ensure that they are effectively conserved into the future,” she added.
Bee populations are facing difficulty from habitat loss and the use of pesticides, and until now, researchers have not had the data to show where on the planet most species are.
John Ascher of the National University of Singapore compiled the bee species list.
Ascher told the BBC that the research distinguishes areas that are less suitable for bees from areas where bees should thrive but have been decreased by threats of natural habitat loss, pesticides and overgrazing.
While there remains a lot to learn about what drives bee diversity, the research team hopes its work will help in the conservation of bees as global pollinators.
The research is published in the journal Current Biology.