World's Biggest Bee Thought To Be Extinct Has Been Rediscovered

World's Largest Bee Rediscovered in Wild

World's Biggest Bee: Long Lost Monster Species With 'Immense Jaws' Rediscovered in Wild

There is, at present, no legal protection concerning trading of Wallace's giant bee.

A Wallace's giant bee compared to a European honeybee. (Those are the females; males are roughly half that size.) Now, the bee, which has been presumed extinct a couple of times, has been found again in the wild, a conservation group announced today.

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.

While the bee does look horrifying, it is a bee, so it probably isn't itching to sting you unless it feels threatened (and again, it's in a part of Indonesia where it wasn't found for 38 years) but still, I'm certainly not going to sleep well tonight knowing this creature is out there somewhere. The insect is named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who formulated the theory of evolution by natural selection before Charles Darwin's published contributions.

Despite its size, the bee remained elusive, with nearly nothing known about the female's secretive life cycle involving making nests of tree resin inside active arboreal termite mounds.

The giant bee is said to be the size of a human thumb and hasn't been seen since 1981 (illustrative picture).

Honorary professor of biology at the University of Sydney and Central Queensland University Simon Robson holding the bee found in January 2019
World's biggest bee that was missing for 38 years is found alive in Indonesia

"To actually see how lovely and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible", Bolt said.

They detected a solitary female bee after investigating the region for five days, and a photographer captured the first-ever images of a living Wallace's Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) at the insect's nest in an active termite mound. "It's just ridiculously large", Simon Robson, a biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia and a member of the expedition, told The New York Times. He found the bee on the last day of exploring the island. The team now hopes to carry out more research on the species and raise awareness of it in order to protect it from extinction-over the last 20 years, Indonesia has lost huge areas of forest to make way for agriculture.

A documentary film about Wallace's giant bee is now in production. But Wallace was the last person on record to see one until an entomologist with the University of Georgia in Athens found several in 1981.

He observed how the bee used its giant jaws to gather resin and wood for its termite-proof nests.

Female specimens of the bee can reach a length of 3.8cm and have a wingspan of more than 6cm.

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