World's largest bee feared extinct found after nearly 40 years

22 February, 2019, 07:11 | Author: Sherry Houston
  • World's Largest Bee Rediscovered in Wild

The females can grow up to four centimeters long and have a wingspan of 2.5 inches.

As Earther reports, the search for the bee began to heat back up early previous year when a preserved specimen fetched almost five figures in an online auction.

You might think the world's biggest bee would be easy to find.

A team of scientists found a single live female during an expedition to Indonesia's North Moluccas islands last month.

Little is known about these elusive insects' habits. This was the first time researchers had spied a Wallace's giant bee (alive) in 38 years, confirming that the particularly huge insect is still around.

Tapia's expedition team also reportedly found additional tracks and scents that may belong to other members of the species, meaning this grand old lady might not be alone. Researchers are hoping the discovery can lead to protection of the ultra-rare species, which is threatened by deforestation and unethical collectors. He described the female bee as "a large, black wasp-like insect, with enormous jaws like a stag beetle".

The bee, which photographer Clay Bolt described as a "flying bulldog" calling the entire experience of snapping the first photo of the newly-rediscovered bee "absolutely breathtaking", which is exactly what someone who saw a flying bulldog would say. And now, he added, that sheer remoteness might help protect it from anyone seeking to get into the bee-poaching business and sell a rare specimen.

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Despite its size, nearly nothing is known about the rare bee's secretive life cycle, with their female's known to make nests inside termite mounds high up in the tree canopy.

As first noted by Wallace, the female giant bees feature unusually big mandibles, and Messer discovered the reason why: these mandibles are used to pluck resin from trees, which is then used to line the inside of the bees' nests.

According to a new study from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia and the University of Toulouse in France, bees can do math! During this time, he documented some aspects of its behavior-like how it builds nests inside termite mounds.

Similar to other bees, the Wallace bee feeds on nectar and pollen.

Professor Robson was with a team organised by Global Wildlife Conservation, a Texas-based organisation that runs a Search for Lost Species program, when the bee was discovered. He also wrote that the bee was big as a human thumb. Still, nobody had seen it since that rediscovery, and it was once again considered to be a "lost" species that might not even be around anymore.

As has been the case with other historic perceptions about bees, the king bee turned out to be a queen: the females are far larger than the males, which measure less than one inch in length.

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