Wallace’s Giant Bee Spotted

World’s Largest Bee Rediscovered On Indonesia’s Islands

Modern humans may be on the little blue marble for about 200,000 years, but there are still many things awaiting to be discovered or rediscovered. One such recent discovery/rediscovery is this: the Wallace’s Giant Bee, or as it known scientifically as Megachile pluto. Previously thought to be extinct when it was last saw in the wild in 1981, the elusive bee of gargantuan proportion was recently spotted in the world on the North Moluccas islands of Indonesia.

The Wallace’s Giant Bee may be big, but boy, was it elusive. But how big is this world’s biggest bee? At approximately four times the size of the European honeybee, the Wallace’s Giant Bee truly dwarfs its European cousin. As with most of the cases in the animal kingdom, the female species of the Wallace’s Giant Bee is much larger than the male species. The recorded female size comes in at nearly an inch and a half long, with an almost an inch long tongue and a pair of unusually huge mandibles that rival those of the stag beetle’s. But the mandibles for the bee serve a different purpose.

Wallace’s Giant Bee Spotted
Photo: Natural history photographer Clay Bolt taking photos of a Wallace’s giant bee. Credit : Simon Robson.

The giant bee employs the giant mandibles to scrap resin from trees and using it with its large mandibles to roll the resin into a large ball which it then carried it back to the nest. Speaking of nest, the female Wallace’s Giant Bee was found in a termite nest on the side of a tree. As it turns out, Wallace’s Giant Bees very much preferred to be tenants, opting to bunk in with the termite community, and modifying the nest to suit their needs, such as creating tunnels and cells in the termites’ nest to create their own space without intruding into the termite colony. Now, that’s what I call personal space. Even the bug world knew this and that is pretty darn amazing.

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Anywho, the Wallace’s Giant Bee was named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace who discovered the species over a century ago in the 1850s. This oversized bee has remained elusive since then, having only seen a handful of times – with the last sighting in 1981. The rediscovery of the giant bee was made by a team who was on a five-day trip to Indonesia’s North Moluccas islands as part of Global Wildlife Conversation’s Search for Lost Species program and it is also an important prove that it has gone extinct (which a one hell of a news, if you ask me).

You can read in-depth on the rediscovery HERE.

Featured image: Clay Bolt.

Source: npr.