World's biggest bee, nicknamed 'flying bulldog', is re-discovered

22 February, 2019, 07:14 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • World's Largest Bee Rediscovered in Wild

Messer found several of the bees living in mountainous terrain of three islands in the North Moluccas, near the Equator.

The insects are about four times larger than the common honey bee or about as long as a human thumb.

Wallace's giant bee was last spotted in 1981, but since then no-one had documented seeing it.

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

After almost four decades, researchers have rediscovered the world's largest bee which, until now, was believed to be extinct. Last Sunday, a female member of the species - believed to be more than 100 years old - was found during an expedition, according to a statement from Ecuador's government.

The bee, which goes by the scientific name Megachile pluto, lives in the Indonesian island region of North Moluccas and makes its nest in termite mounds, using its large fang-like mandibles to collect sticky resin to protect its home from the termites.

Little is known about these elusive insects' habits.

Known as Wallace's giant bee, the insect is named after the British naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace, who described it in 1858.

"Despite an abundance of potential nesting sites, the bee appears to be rare", Messer wrote of his rediscovery in the 1980s.

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It is a very big boy and we're in awe of the size.

With an estimated maximum wingspan of two and a half inches Wallace's Giant Bee is the largest bee on Earth.

The natural history photographer who captured the first images of the giant bee described her as a "flying bulldog".

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. 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. One route might involve elevating the giant bee as an avatar of the local biodiversity, much like what has been done with the Wallace's standardwing, a bird in the region.

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!

Currently, there is no legal protection addressing trade in the endangered Wallace's giant bee. Add to that a pair of enormous mandibles, and it's a bee like no other.

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.

While the bee has once-again been found, it's hard to say how long it will stay.

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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