The world’s biggest bee, which is as long as an adult’s thumb, has been re-discovered after decades of wildlife experts believing it was lost to extinction.
The giant bee was found on an Indonesian island that was not explored much.
After multiple days of searching — wildlife experts discovered a single live female, which they both photographed and filmed.
Coined as Wallace’s giant bee — the insect is named after Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist and explorer who first described the bee in 1858.
Scientists were able to find multiple specimens in 1981 on three different Indonesia Islands.
Although, it has not been seen alive since — despite a report last year of two bee specimens being offered for sale online.
Back in January, a team followed in Wallace’s steps — journeying through Indonesia in an attempt to both find and photograph the bee.
“It was absolutely breathtaking to see this ‘flying bulldog’ of an insect that we weren’t sure existed anymore, to have real proof right there in front of us in the wild,” said Clay Bolt, natural history photographer, who took the very first photo and video of the species, alive.
“To actually see how beautiful 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.”
The Wallace giant bee has an estimated wingspan of two-and-a-half inches, making Wallace’s giant bee the biggest in the world.
The female creates her nest in termite mounds, using her huge jaw to collect sticky tree resin to line the nest and protect it from termites.
The species also depends on primary lowland forest for both resin and the nests of tree-dwelling termites.
The discovery was made in the Indonesian islands known as the North Moluccas — raising hopes that the region’s forest still harbor one of the most rare and sought after insects in the world.
Currently, there are no legal protections around its trade.
Eli Wyman, trip member and bee expert, is an entomologist at Princeton University.
An entomologist is defined as “a person who studies or is an expert in the branch of zoology concerned with insects.”
Wyman shares how he is hopeful that the rediscovery of the bee would create research towards a deeper understanding of the life history of the bee and help with future efforts to protect it from going extinct.
Currently, Wallace’s huge bee is listed as vulnerable to extinction according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
But the international trade of this particular species is currently not restricted by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
The Global Wildlife Conservation, GWC, an environmental group, which has launched a worldwide hunt for “lost species,” funded the trip to track down the bee.
“By making the bee a world-famous flagship for conservation, we are confident that the species has a brighter future than if we just let it quietly be collected into oblivion,” shared Robin Moore.
Back in January, the same group announced how they had discovered more rare Bolivian frogs belonging to a species thought to be down to just one male.
NOW WATCH: Sweden Actually Turns It’s Garbage Into Energy | Save The World