Wallace's giant bee, world's largest, refound by scientists

World's Largest Bee Rediscovered in Wild

The next time the bee was seen was 1981 when American entomologist Adam Messer reported sightings on three different Indonesian islands.

Female bees can reach a length of 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) and have a wingspan of more than 6 centimeters, while males grow to about 2.3 centimeters. The jaw-dropping giant disappeared for 38 years and scientists and bee lovers were convinced it had gone extinct like so many other insects.

Simon Robson, a biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia, told the New York Times that he believes the bees can sting, but the team of researchers hasn't been stung.

Little is known about these elusive insects' habits.

Despite its conspicuous size, no one had observed Wallace's giant bee - discovered in the 19th century by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and nicknamed the "flying bulldog" - in the wild since 1981, the Global Wildlife Conservation said.

Since Messer rediscovered the bee, other teams have looked, but have had no luck.

Scientists are already looking for Wallace's giant bee in other locations; conservationists are also pushing for legal protections for the insect.

"To actually see how lovely and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings. was just incredible", said Clay Bolt, a specialist bee photographer who snapped the enormous insect. A female bee was just found, and she was alive.

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According to the National Geographic, Messer wrote in 1984 that the bee remains rare and that as it lives only in aerial termite mounds, it is not particularly easy to find.

A petition for a referendum on preserving the diversity of species - better known as the "save the bees" petition - has gathered the legally required 10 percent of all eligible voters in the southern German state of Bavaria, two days before the end of the official registration period.

Researchers and conservationists with the group say they stumbled upon the female specimen living inside a termites' nest in a tree almost two meters off the ground.

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

One of the first images of a living Wallace's giant bee. 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. Add to that a pair of big mandibles, and it's a bee like no other.

The trip was supported by environmental group Global Wildlife Conservation, which has launched a worldwide hunt for 25 "lost species". The huge size and apparent rarity of the species has also made it a target for wildlife trade.

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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