World's biggest bee re-discovered after four decades

Wallace's giant bee
Wallace's giant bee - pretty big. Photo credit: Clay Bolt

Experts are abuzz after the re-discovery of the world's biggest bee.

A search team set out to find the Wallace's giant bee, Megachile pluto, in Indonesia in January.

The species is about as big as a female thumb and has a wingspan of more than six centimetres.

Despite its size, it has been evading scientists since 1981. The new specimen - a female - was found inside a termite's nest, where they make their nests.

"It was absolutely breathtaking to see this 'flying bulldog' of an insect that we weren't sure existed anymore," said natural history photographer Clay Bolt, who took the first photos of a living member of the rare species.

giant bee
Another shot of the giant bee. Photo credit: Clay Bolt

The announcement comes a day after a giant tortoise, long thought to be extinct, was found on the Galapagos Islands.

"I hope this rediscovery will spark research that will give us a deeper understanding of this unique bee and inform any future efforts to protect it from extinction," said Eli Wyman from Princeton University.

The details of the find were released by the University of Sydney. A documentary film about the hunt is in production.


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