About this tool


This tool is a response to significant pollinator losses that threaten food security and ecosystem sustainability, as summarized in the executive strategy for pollinator conservation (Presidential Memorandum of June 20, 2014) and its follow-up (Pollinator Research Action Plan). Significant bee losses have been attributed to many factors, such as habitat loss and reduced natural forage, unsustainable management practices, pesticide exposure, and parasites and pathogens that may be introduced along with non-native bee species. Exotic Bee ID is a screening aid to help monitor and intercept non-native bees that may be introduced to the U.S., and ultimately help reduce native pollinator losses.

Exotic Bee ID can be used to:

  • identify bees in the family Megachilidae to the generic level;
  • identify bees in the genera Anthidium, Ceratina, Megachile, and Osmia to the subgenera level;
  • identify North American bees in Anthidium to the species level;
  • identify bees in Osmia (Osmia) to species level;
  • differentiate between species of Apis (honey bees) and other bees;
  • identify bees of the genus Apis to species level;
  • learn about bee biology, behavior, identification, and the relevant terminology used for their identifications;
  • view images of multiple bee taxa, including images of diagnostic features.

Exotic Bee ID contains interactive keys, fact sheets, an image gallery, and supporting information. The interactive keys allow you to select characters that apply to your target specimen. Fact sheets can be used to find images for, and information on, a particular bee genus or species, including diagnostic characteristics, host associations, and nesting behaviors. The filterable image gallery allows you to compare images from multiple taxa.

Some components of this tool were specifically designed to help non-experts. Bee identification generally relies on microscopic characters, so pinned specimens are usually required. Consult the bee preparation page to learn how to prepare and pin bees. The bee morphology page describes external structural features referred to throughout the tool. The glossary provides definitions and illustrations or images of terms. The biology and behavior page includes general information about bee life history.