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The Gotham bee has a greenish-blue body and brown legs and antennae. Females are 6.1 to 7.1 millimetres (0.24 to 0.28 in) long, about the size of a sesame seed. Males are smaller than females, about 5.26 millimetres (0.207 in) long. The Gotham bee has a wide head (1.73 to 1.87 millimetres (0.068 to 0.074 in) wide versus 1.66 to 1.78 millimetres (0.065 to 0.070 in) long). Males are bluer in color than females which are more green. The Gotham bee can be distinguished from other sweat bees from the pattern of bristles on its abdomen. It most closely resembles Lasioglossum zephyrum and Lasioglossum smilacinae.
Distribution and habitat
The Gotham bee was first spotted at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It has since been found throughout the Atlantic coast of the United States, as far south as Georgia. A few specimens have been found in the Midwest, and one in Nebraska. It nests underground.
The Gotham bee was discovered by John Ascher in 2010 as part of a biological survey of New York City's bee populations for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). When he first saw the Gotham bee, Ascher was unable to identify it as it did not precisely match any of the 700,000 bee specimens he curates for AMHN. He passed the bee to Jason Gibbs, who identified it as a new species in 2011 with the help of DNA testing. The specific name, L. gotham, was chosen because New York City is sometimes called "Gotham City". At the same time, Gibbs and his colleagues identified ten other new sweat bee species using AMNH's collections. Their research, which was published in Zootaxa in October 2011, also reclassified 97 other species of Lasioglossum (Dialictus).
Due to its small size, the Gotham bee was previously indistinguishable from other bees native to New York City. Ascher commented, "This little bee has been quietly living in the city, pollinating flowers in people’s gardens for years. It’s a pleasure to help give it some well-deserved recognition."
- "Revision of the metallic Lasioglossum (Dialictus) of eastern North America (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Halictini.)". Zootaxa: 104–108. October 28, 2011.
- Robert Lee Hotz (April 28, 2012). "Urban Buzz: A New Bee That Sips Sweat". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- Erik Olsen (November 10, 2011). "City Bees Newly Discovered, Yet Here All Along". New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- "Lasioglossum gotham map". Discover Life. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- Alan Boyle (November 18, 2011). "New bee or not new bee?". NBC News. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- Jennifer Viegas (November 21, 2011). "New York City Buzzing With New Bee Species". Discovery News. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- Lasioglossum Gotham at Discover Life