Sam Droege is head of the US Geological Survey Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory in Maryland, and for the past seven years he and his team have been photographing bees and other insects to create online reference catalogues to help researchers identify the thousands of species across North America. Here is a selection of their work.

You cah find more work of Sam Droege on his Flickr Photostream.

A female Augochloropsis metallica bee, collected from a tomato plant in San Francisco. Turning the lens on every groove and hair, Sam Droege and his team at the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab are on a mission to capture the portraits of the 4,000 species of bee found in the United States. Their goal is to create a comprehensive online reference for identification

Festive Tiger Beetle, Cicindela scutellaris - the Festive Tiger Beetle, found on top of a butte in Badlands National Park that had ancient windblown sand at its crest, very different from the rest of the gumbo soils of the park. Here this sand specialist can build its long burrows. Experimenting with using Black Velvet as a background ... seems to gain me a few more black pixes as compared to Black Felt, also used a white card to reflect light back up on the underside of the specimen.

Ceratina smaragdula, male A Beautiful Invasive. Ceratina smaragdula, male, captured on Hawaii, Oahu, March 2012. This Asian species, along with others has invaded the Hawaiian islands where it thrives in sea of introduced garden plants found at lower elevations on the islands.

Robber Fly, Face, Charles County,  An unknown species of Robber Fly from Charles County Maryland. Photo taken by Colby Francoeur

Spider Wasp, One of the lovely minature Spider Wasps Collected in Glycol Trap. Pompilidae

L. pectinatum, F Lasioglossum pectinatum, Maryland , Washington County. One very rare bee, this is the first one I have seen a specimen of from the state

Osmia caerulescens, M Osmia caerulescens male Acadia National Park, an introduced species, but surprisingly one that is declining in parts of its range, photoshopped by Ann Simpkins

Svastra petulca, M North Carolina, Wake County, collected by Adrian L. Carper

Polistes (2), F, Unknown Polistes species from the Dominican Republic

Epeolus zonatus, U, back, Georgia, Camden Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia...A pretty little nest parasite of Colletes bees

Ceratina dupla, F

Pseudomyrmex gracilis, U, side, Florida,  Pseudomyrmex gracilis from Biscayne National Park, Florida. Thanks to Doug Yanega for the Genus name and James Trager for the species name of this introduced species

Megachile fortis,  Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Anthidium maculifrons, F Fort Matanzas national Monument, Florida

Halictus ligatus, F Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, covered in pollen from an unknown plant

Andrena alleghaniensis

Prionyx thomae, M;