Exotic bee Lucid keys

Best practices for using the keys

Choosing characters

Although the characters (called "features" in the keys) in Features Available are listed in a particular order, it's up to you to choose characters in the order you wish. It's best, however, to choose the simplest or most obvious characters you can easily address first.

It's OK to skip characters

In looking through the characters, you may not understand a character, you may not be sure which state of a character to choose, or a character or state may not be clear on your specimen. It's better to skip the character in such cases. Do not guess!

Also, skip characters that do not apply to your specimen, such as female characters if your specimen is a male. Additionally, skip characters that are not relevant, such as a character that refers to a part on your bee that is broken off.

Use illustrated character notes

As you work through the list of Features Available, you may find some characters or character states that you do not understand. If so, review the glossary page and search for the character name you are unsure about. The glossary contains definitions and illustrations or photographic examples for each defined character.

When selecting states, always choose multiple states if you're uncertain of the correct choice

Lucid allows you to choose multiple states of a character. For example, you would select multiple states if a) the bee you are looking at exhibits more than one state (e.g., if some individual bees have yellow coloration but others are brown, or if a single feature is half brown and half yellow) or b) your bees are all yellowish-brown. In all of these situations, you would choose both the yellow and brown states.

Determine states carefully

Consider all the states for a character and carefully choose the state or states that match, if any.

Numeric characters

Some characters are numeric, requiring you to enter a number based on your measurement or count. When using these characters, be sure to measure accurately, and do not approximate.

Lucid's Best tool

You can use the Lucid Player 'Best' tool. The Best algorithm will assess which of the remaining characters and states available will best reduce the list of Entities Remaining. Using one or another of the Best characters will give you the most efficient next step.

When one taxon remains

If after choosing states, there is only one taxon left in Entities Remaining, you are not done! You should check the description, images, and any remarks about identification on the associated fact sheet to confirm that your bee matches or is very similar to the identified taxon. If that fact sheet includes images of similar-looking species, compare your bee to those species as well.

Because the taxa covered in this tool represent disparate genera, and because bees in certain groups look extremely similar and are very difficult to differentiate, arriving at one taxon remaining does not necessarily mean that your bee belongs to that taxon. Rather, it may indicate that your bee is one that looks very similar to that taxon. You may then be able to continue your identification further by consulting fact sheet pages and references from specialized literature that are particular to that group. The book Bees of the World by Michener (2007) is the best source to identify bees to generic level, but it uses dichotomous keys and requires previous knowledge of the terminology associated with bee morphology.

When several taxa remain

It is quite possible that even after addressing all the characters you can, you would not be able to reduce the number of taxa in Entities Remaining beyond a short list. This may happen frequently in these keys because some of the characters are quite general. Also, some of the taxa (for example those in the same tribe) are quite hard to differentiate. When this occurs, consult the associated resources. Often, looking through the images of the remaining taxa can be a faster way to make a determination than trying to find a character that will discriminate among them. Remember, these images can be accessed from the fact sheets or the photo galleries while still in the key.

When no taxa remain

If you end up with no taxa in Entities Remaining, it may mean you made a mistake choosing character states. It could also mean that your bee does not belong to the taxa covered in this tool. Review your chosen character states and delete any you are dubious about. Then consult the fact sheets as above.

Similar-looking bees

If one or several taxa remain in Entities Remaining, it may be the case that your bee is not an included taxon, but one that looks similar to an included taxon. Be aware of this and check the image galleries and fact sheets of the remaining taxa for similar species.

It is also possible that the correct taxon does not appear in Entities Remaining. This could happen if one of the selected characters was misinterpreted. A strategy to use in this case (as mentioned above) is to delete the most recently selected states and then compare the misinterpreted character to that of the taxa returned to Entities Remaining.

Other ways to use the fact sheets

You can browse through the fact sheets for all the taxa, independently of the interactive keys. Although the previous/next buttons on individual fact sheets work by going through the taxa alphabetically by tribe and then by genus, on the fact sheets page there is a mechanism for searching the taxa alphabetically by genus, independent of tribe. Therefore, if you already know the tribe to which your bee belongs, you may be able to make an identification by checking the descriptions and images for that tribe only. Browsing these pages in general is also a way to familiarize yourself with all the included taxa.

For further assistance about how to use Lucid, consult 'Help' from the Lucid interactive key menu.