The bee species – nicknamed the “flying bulldog” – has dark-colored bodies, huge jaws, a wingspan of about six centimeters and is a resident of rainforests in Indonesia.
Last month, scientists ‘rediscovered’ the elusive Wallace’s Giant Bee – which was thought to be extinct – in the Indonesian province of North Maluku on the Maluku Islands, the Global Wildlife Conservation announced Thursday.
The bee species – nicknamed the “flying bulldog” – has dark-colored bodies, huge jaws, a wingspan of about six centimeters and is a resident of rainforests in Indonesia, but had not been spotted since 1981.
"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 insect, said in a statement.
The bee built its nest in a termite mound with a wall of sticky resin to reinforce the structure home from its termite neighbors.
The female of Wallace’s Giant Bee (Megachile pluto) species – first discovered in the 1858 by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace – is four times larger than a typical honey bee, measuring the size of a human thumb.
The male is half the size of the female.
“To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings… was just incredible,” Bolt, who later released the insect back into the wild, noted. “My dream is now to elevate this bee to a symbol of conservation in this part of Indonesia, a point of pride for the locals there.”
BREAKING: Lost to science since 1981 and thought by some to be extinct, Wallace's giant bee (Megachile pluto) has been rediscovered in Indonesia by an international team of scientists and conservationists. pic.twitter.com/VoDp43LRG2— Australian Academy of Science (@Science_Academy) February 21, 2019
Adam Messer, a researcher who was with the Department of Entomology at the University of Georgia, was the last scientist to document Wallace’s Giant Bee in the wild.
"Messer's rediscovery gave us some insight, but we still know next to nothing about this extraordinary insect," an entomologist at Princeton University and one of the researchers, Eli Wyman, remarked.
According to Robin Moore from research sponsor Global Wildlife Conservation, the bee remains at-risk due to being hunted by insect collectors as well as deforestation.