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Worlds Biggest Bee Not Extinct After All

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Worlds Biggest Bee Not Extinct After All

Bees. We often read about their supposed strange behaviour and almost everyone knows by now that without bees, life on earth may in all likelihood cease to exist. But what about a bee that grows to be the size of a walnut and boasts a rather impressive wingspan? Thought to be extinct, the giant bee known as Wallace’s Giant Bee (named after the scientist who had first discovered the species), scientific name: Megachile Pluto, has been spotted alive for the first time in 38 years.

But how big exactly is Wallace’s Giant Bee? The females can measure up to 63.5mm, when measured from wing-tip to wing-tip. This is roughly the size of an AA battery. The males tend to be slightly smaller, but not by much.

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Giant Female Spotted In Indonesia

Despite the fact that the giant bee was thought to be extinct, the Global Wildlife Conservation Society earlier this week announced that a female Megachile Pluto had been spotted and video-graphed in Indonesia’s North Mollucas islands.

American nature photographer Clay Bolt, who had been part of the Indonesia expedition, confirms that the bee was spotted in her nest in a termite mound. It was thought at the time that she was busy raising her young.

According to a blog that Bolt later wrote about the discovery, the bee was first spotted by a couple of Indonesian guides. The guides had told the story of how they had noticed that the hole in the termite mound had been large and round; and much bigger than that usually utilised by the average-sized bee. They suspected that the expedition was onto something, as the hole seemed a perfect fit for Wallace’s bee.

The scientific world had long hoped that the bee would re-surface, and had remained very aware of its history and supposed extinction.

Poignant Moment Between Man And Bee

According to Bolt, he had shared a poignant moment with the bee. One of the Indonesian guides, a man by the name of Iswan, had climbed up the rotten tree where the mound had been constructed, in order to get a better look. A noise had alerted the guide to the fact that there was either a snake or a bee in the vicinity. He had then proceeded to jump down from the tree, after which an entomologist from the Museum of Natural History had proceeded to take a look. Eli Wyman confirmed that the hole most definitely fit the profile of Wallace’s giant bee.

It was Bolt’s turn to have a look after Wyman, and he in turn proceeded to shine his headlight into the hole. Bolt recalls how the light had caught the profile of the giant bee, and that the bee could be seen looking right at him. Bolt describes this as a very extraordinary moment indeed.

Scientists all over the world are elated at the discovery, as Wallace’s giant bee had been considered extinct.