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Giant bee: Megachile pluto spotted for the first time since 1981



It can be daunting for most people, but scientists were happy when a research group recently found it in Indonesia.

It is the world's largest bee, and the researchers feared that it could be extinct – so far.

A group of scientists made a fantastic "rediscovery" of the elusive critter and took the first pictures and video of a live Wallace's gigabyte on January 25th.

The team – composed of natural history photographer Clay Bolt, entomologist Eli Wyman, behavioral ecologist Simon Robson and ornithologist Glenn Chilton – spent years studying the bee and wrapped in damp Indonesian forests for days before stumbling on one.

The rediscovery has renewed the hope that more of the region's forests are home to the rare species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies this species as "vulnerable" due to mining and quarries.

Only two other fortunate fellows have been documented to have seen it personally before. The first was British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered the giant bee in 1

858 while exploring the tropical Indonesian island of Bacan. The entomologist Adam Messer became the second in 1981.

The team went from the termite nest to housed in the forests of remote islands known as the North Mucus, Bolt said.

They had some information about the bee habitats and behavior of Messer's paper, and they examined satellite images to become familiar with the terrain. They knew that Wallace's giant bee tended to be found in the lowland forest and tree dwelling thermal trees.

However, deforestation in Indonesia has fallen over the last decade to pave the way for agriculture. This meant that the bee's natural habitat had shrunk – and with that, the chances of people seeing it.

The observed shrimp for about half an hour before moving on to the next. At times, they thought they had hit the giant bee, only to find out that it had been a whip, Bolt said.

  Iswan, the team's local guide, examines an arboreal termite bean containing the first rediscovered Wallace's giant bee and her nest.

On the last day of a 5-day field search, the team's guidance and interpreter spotted an interesting looking nest about 8 feet away from the ground. As Bolt climbed on a tree to look more closely at the mound, he saw a single female Wallace's giant bee.

"It was a remarkably humiliating moment," Bolt said. After the team was restored from the first excitement, they set out to photograph the bee in its natural environment.

They waited a few hours for her to get out of the nest, but she was camera shy.

Finally, the researchers decided to wedge the bee with a grass, and she went straight into a large tube. As soon as they released her from the tube, Bolt could catch the bee flying in front of the nest.

Robson, studying animal behavior and evolution, said the bee, the observed "was not very aggressive."

Only four years ago, Bolt and Wyman dreamed of seeing a true Wallace's giant bee in the wild.

The two met while Bolt was on a shoot in New York. At that time, Wyman worked in the American Museum of Natural History and offered to show Bolt a Wallace's giant bee specimen.

"Eli and I started talking about," Wouldn't it be fun to rediscover it in nature? "Bolt said.

So they started planning over three years. In October 2018, the two were contacted by Robson and Chilton, who were on the same mission." "We decided to go together," Robson said. The first time they all met was in Chicago airport.

When the team arrived at their first site, they found out that local residents had never seen – or heard of – what they were looking for, even talking to a local four-bird guide but came up with nothing.

"People couldn't believe we were looking for a bee," Bolt said.

Now that they have found it, Bolt hopes to work with local presidents and potentially reverse Wallace & "The giant bee to a flagship type for the area."

"With all the bad news coming out of things in the natural world, this (rediscovery) gives me hope," Bolt said.

Robson is optimistic that the bee will continue to thrive.

"There is still much forest and there is time and good hope for the bee and the ts survival, "Robson said.


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