World's biggest bee rediscovered in Indonesia

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There is, at present, no legal protection concerning trading of Wallace's giant bee. (Those are the females; males are roughly half that size.) Now, the bee, which has been presumed extinct a couple of times, has been found again in the wild, a conservation group announced today.

"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 Mr Bolt.

"To actually see how attractive and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings. was just incredible", said Clay Bolt, a specialist bee photographer who snapped the enormous insect.

The bee was first discovered in 1858 by naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, who developed the theory of evolution by natural selection at the same time as Charles Darwin.

The team found a female bee living in a termite nest on the side of a tree - the large bee's preferred habitat. With a wingspan of two and a half inches - as long as a human thumb - and four times larger than a European honeybee, Wallace described the female as "a large black wasp-like insect, with enormous jaws like a stag-beetle".

Eli Wyman, who joined Mr Bolt on the trip, added: "To actually see how handsome 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".

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In January, a team followed in Wallace's footsteps on a journey through Indonesia in an attempt to find and photograph the bee. The last time a specimen was spotted was 1981. They retraced Wallace's steps in Indonesia and found a nest.

Natural history and conservation photographer Clay Bolt described the team's five-day search for Global Wildlife Conservation. Others on the trip included Princeton University entomologist Eli Wyman; Simon Robson, a biology professor at the University of Sydney in Australia; and Glen Chilton, a professor at Saint Mary's University in Canada. Last month, a group of fearless souls, including conservation photographer Clay Bolt, took a five-day expedition to find the bee - and succeeded.

None had been found alive until wildlife photographer Clay Bolt made public his finding of a solitary female of the species in February 2019.

It would be another 120 before the creepy critters were seen again, when entomologist Adam Messer rediscovered them in 1981 on three Indonesian islands. During this time, he documented some aspects of its behavior-like how it builds nests inside termite mounds.

Female specimens of the bee can reach a length of 3.8cm and have a wingspan of more than 6cm.

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