A new species of bee (pictured above) has been discovered in Turkana County in Kenya’s arid northern
The bee has been given the scientific name Samba turkana, in honour of the region, its peoples and biodiversity. The bee has been formally described by Professor Laurence Packer of York University and Dr Dino J. Martins of the Turkana Basin Institute
and Nature Kenya.
The description of this new species is published today in the scientific
journal ZooTaxa (http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.3918.2.7).
Samba turkana was discovered in the South Turkwel region by Dr Martins who is a Kenyan scientist, naturalist and explorer.
He is considered one of East Africa’s leading entomologists and studies the links between biodiversity and human life and livelihoods.
The bee was found by Dr Martins working with community members doing routine sampling of bees that pollinate legumes in the region. Professor Laurence Packer is one of the world’s leading bee taxonomists and has worked and travelled in search of bees to many
Turkana is one of our planet’s unexplored hotspots of bee diversity. Bees are more diverse in hot, dry areas as they do well in these conditions. There are estimated to be over 500 hundred different species of bees in the Turkana Basin area. It is important to note this is a solitary bee, more closely related to wasps.
The bee was discovered at the Turkana Basin Institute which has been established in Turkana by Dr Richard Leakey.
Samba turkana is part of one of the more ancient families of bees. They are all solitary and wasp-like. This shows that bees evolved from wasps.
This discovery highlights the importance of the drylands of northern Kenya as a hotspot for biodiversity and also how much we still have to learn and discover in Africa.