The Mediterranean, and the Aegean in particular, is a hot spot for bee diversity and one of the centres of bee speciation. Bees, especially wild ones, together with many other pollinator groups, are in serious decline worldwide. This has been reported as a severe threat both to the remaining wild life and, importantly so, to the world productivity.
The Melissotheque of the Aegean is the first reference collection of wild bees and other pollinating insects in Greece. It is a museum-like scientific infrastructure that has been created since 2004 at the Laboratory of Biogeography & Ecology of the University of the Aegean in Mytilene, with the primary goal to meet with the scientific needs of this Laboratory. It is the result of several scientific activities, surveys, and projects that have been financed by the European Union (FP 6 Integrated project ALARM – Assessing LArge scale environmental Risks for biodiversity with tested Methods) and co-financed by the General Secretariat for Research and Technology of Greece. So far priority has been given to the Aegean archipelago: ca. 40,000 specimens collected from Lesvos encompassing ca. 550 bee and more than 100 hoverflyspecies.
A major objective of the Melissotheque of the Aegean is to cover the vast Linnaean shortfall regarding the insect (mainly anthophilous insects) taxonomic capital in Greece. This is related to human capital (lack of taxonomists), infrastructure (lack of insect reference collections in the country), as well as supporting literature (lack of taxonomic keys, Atlases of insect biogeography etc). The ambitious plan of the Melissotheque of the Aegean for the years to come includes: (a) promotion of the scientific knowledge on the pollinator diversity and importance, as well as the threats imposed to them in the Aegean, (b) sustainable management and use of pollinators for nature conservation and primary production, (c) efforts to address taxonomic limitations by training students and creating literature and taxonomic keys and, (d) public awareness in order to safeguard the bee and pollinator capital of the Aegean archipelago and the country.
More about the Melissotheque of the Aegean: http://www2.aegean.gr/lab_biogeography-ecology/sec_menu.php?lg=Z3I=&cg=one