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World's Largest Bee Is Spotted For First Time In Decades

21 February 2019

There are now no legal protections around its trade.

He explains on the website his incredible journey to find the bee alive, which started almost two decades ago when he first learned of Wallace and his travels.

"It was absolutely breathtaking to see this "flying bulldog" of an insect that we weren't sure existed anymore", photographer Clay Bolt, who captured the images of the giant, said in a statement published by The University of Sydney in Australia.

While the bee does look horrifying, it is a bee, so it probably isn't itching to sting you unless it feels threatened (and again, it's in a part of Indonesia where it wasn't found for 38 years) but still, I'm certainly not going to sleep well tonight knowing this creature is out there somewhere.

British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace discovered the weird species on his last day exploring the tropical Indonesian island of Bacan in 1858. After 5 days of searching, they located a single female inside a termite's nest high in the trees-the bees build their own nests inside such structures, defending them with tree sap that they collect with their strong jaws.

In January, a team followed in Wallace's footsteps on a journey through Indonesia in an attempt to find and photograph the bee.

"To actually see how lovely and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming as it flew past my head, was just incredible", Bolt added. The last time a specimen was spotted was 1981.

The report describes the bee as being about the size of an adult thumb with a wingspan of about 2.5 inches.

He ventured to the Bacan Islands in Indonesia in 1858 and found the bee with "immense jaws like a stag-beetle".

In addition to its Brobdingnagian size, Wallace's giant bee sports unusually large mandibles, which are often compared to a stag beetle's.

The world's biggest bee has been found after it was thought that the species had become extinct as the last time a specimen was spotted was in 1981.

"Messer's rediscovery gave us some insight, but we still know next to nothing about this extraordinary insect", trip member and bee expert Eli Wyman, an entomologist at Princeton University, said.

The trip was supported by environmental group Global Wildlife Conservation, which has launched a worldwide hunt for 25 "lost species".

As has been the case with other historic perceptions about bees, the king bee turned out to be a queen: the females are far larger than the males, which measure less than one inch in length. Pointing a torch into the hole, who did they discover peeking out at them but a single female Wallace's giant bee.

World's Largest Bee Is Spotted For First Time In Decades