Hurray! World’s biggest bee is not extinct

Hurray! World’s biggest bee is not extinct

The world’s largest bee, feared to be extinct,  has been rediscovered alive on the Indonesian islands after 38 years.

As long as an adult thumb, with jaws like a stag beetle and four times larger than a honeybee, a single female Wallace’s giant has been found living inside a termites’ nest in a tree.

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‘Amid such a well-documented global decline in insect diversity, it’s wonderful to discover that this iconic species is still hanging on,’ said Simon Robson, a member of the team and professor at the University of Sydney.

Simon Robson, honorary professor of biology at the University of Sydney and Central Queensland University in Australia, with Wallace’s giant bee

In January, a search team that set out to find and photograph Wallace’s giant bee successfully rediscovered the species in the North Moluccas, an island group in Indonesia. The find resurrects hope that more of the region’s forests still harbour this very rare species.

The discovery was announced on Friday, February 22.

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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.

Alfred Russel Wallace

Wallace collected the species for the first time in 1858 while exploring the Indonesian island of Bacan. He described the female bee as a large, black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag beetle.

Photographed by- Clay Bolt

The bee was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered 38 years ago by Adam Messer, a US entomologist, who found six nests on the island of Bacan and two other nearby islands. It had not been seen again since. Now that the bee has been refound, the team has already started conversations with Indonesian collaborators to look for Wallace’s giant bee in other locations, with the hope of eventually working together to develop a plan to strengthen conservation measures for the bee.


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