It has been 38 years since scientists last discovered the insect called Wallace’s Giant Bee, a rare species found only in a group of Indonesian islands called the Northern Moons. With a 2.5 inch wing game and a human thumb size, it is considered the world’s largest bee and scared of extinction.
These fears can now be added something to rest. In January, an international team of conservationists found a Megachile pluto, which the species is called in nature. The team captured the first images and video clips of a live specimen, renewing the hope of survival of the species, threatened by deforestation.
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The discovery did not come easy. Despite the size of the bee, it is difficult to find the rarity, remote location and hurdles.
“I personally know about at least five attempts to find the bee,” said Clay Bolt, a photographer who was part of the latest expedition
The bees make their homes by digging holes in the nest of resident termites, where they spend much of his time is hiding.
“There was a lot to go around in the woods in 90 degree heat and the highest possible humidity looks at the termite nests and chases after the bees,” says Dr. Robson. Overall, it took five days to hunt the team to find their “holy grail”.
Wallace’s Giant Bee is named after Alfred Russel Wallace, an English entomologist who worked with Charles Darwin to formulate the theory of evolution through natural selection. Wallace first discovered the bee on an expedition in 1859, which described the woman as “a large black warp-like insect with huge jaws like a deer beetle”. (The men are less than an inch long.)
Although Wallace did not “I do not seem particularly interested in the bee – he devoted only one line to it in his journal – it became something of an obsession among biologists. not until 1981, when Adam Messer, an entomologist, observed several in the wild and returned home with a handful of specimens now held in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Natural History Museum in London and other institutions.
Preservatives are concerned that deforestation threatens the survival of bee hunters. The Indonesian region where bees are found lost seven percent of its tree protection between 2001 and 2017, according to Global Forest Watch.
Excited when they were to find the bee, worried Dr. Robson and his team that the sifting can be a mixed blessing. Last year, an anonymous seller sold a previously unconfirmed model to an unknown bidder on eBay for $ 9,100. “If you can get so much money for an insect, it encourages people to go find them,” says Dr. Robson. To protect bees, the team has agreed not to disclose the exact island where they were made.
The plan is now that the team should return to the island and carry out more extensive research, but “it will mean that you make links with local researchers in the area and get permission to go and work with them,” says Dr Robson.