Very big bee not seen in almost four decades rediscovered in the wild
22 February, 2019, 07:15 | Author: Amos Gonzales
Several specimens of the bee were next found in 1981, but it had not been seen since until the 2019 expedition. Wallace's Giant Bee (species Megachile pluto) is an Indonesian species with a 2.5-inch wingspan and enormous mandibles. When the bee was last rediscovered in 1981, it had been presumed extinct.
The world's largest bee - a giant insect roughly the size of a human thumb - has been rediscovered in a remote part of Indonesia in its first sighting in almost 40 years, researchers said yesterday.
Others on the trip included Princeton University entomologist Eli Wyman; Simon Robson, a biology professor at the University of Sydney in Australia; and Glen Chilton, a professor at Saint Mary's University in Canada.
Little is known about these elusive insects' habits.
To rediscover it, an expedition team led by Clay Bolt and Eli Wyman traveled to the Indonesian island of North Moluccas. A team of researchers assembled to launch a proper search for the bee in Indonesia, but the bee continued to elude discovery, at least for a time.
"It was absolutely breathtaking to see this "flying bulldog" of an insect that we weren't sure existed anymore", Clay Bolt, the photographer who took the rediscovered bee's first photos, said in a statement. A female bee was just found, and she was alive.
Despite its size, nearly nothing known was known about the female's secretive life cycle apart from that it lives largely alone and burrows in termite mounds, which it coats with waterproof resin.
The team's local guide pointed them in the direction of a termite nest in a tree and noticed something inside moving after shining his phone light into the perfectly round hole in the top. "We had discovered Wallace's Giant Bee".
On Thursday, they released images and video of a nest and its queen, saying their find was the "holy grail" of species discoveries.
Wallace, who encountered thousands of rare and unique species during his expeditions, devoted only a single line of his journal to the bee.
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While the bee has once-again been found, it's hard to say how long it will stay. He also wrote that the bee was big as a human thumb. "We had discovered Wallace's Giant Bee".
Scientists set back out to find the bee after a specimen was sold to a collector for more than $9k, followed soon after by another sale for around $4k.
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