Research leader Michael Ruggiero of the U.S. National Museum of Natural History said the ongoing "colony collapse disorder" -- an unexplained phenomenon that's wiping out colonies of honey bees across the United States -- highlights the need for such a worldwide checklist of bees and more information about bee species and their interactions with the plants they pollinate.
"At a time when biological diversity is suspected to be declining at an alarming rate, it is important to have a solid baseline from which to measure future trends," said Ruggiero. "This is very exciting because bees are critical for pollinating flowering plants, including most non-cereal food crops."
Ruggiero said the bee checklist acts as a taxonomic "Rosetta Stone" that will enhance communication, information exchange and data repatriation about bees. "The completed checklist is a first step in modeling and forecasting future population trends," he added.
The study included researchers from Australia, Brazil, Britain, Denmark, Japan, South Africa and the United States.