World’s largest bee spotted for the first time since 1981

Washington: A team of researchers spotted the world’s giant bee which is as big as a human thumb, in Indonesia for the first time since 1981, the media reported on Friday.

The team — natural history photographer Clay Bolt, entomologist Eli Wyman, behavioural ecologist Simon Robson and ornithologist Glenn Chilton — made the stunning “rediscovery” of the elusive critter and took the first photos and video of a living Wallace’s giant bee on January 25, CNN reported.

The team has spent years studying the bee and slogged around in humid Indonesia forests for days before stumbling upon one.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies this species as “vulnerable” due to mining and quarrying.

Only two other people have been documented to have seen the Wallace Bee in person before. The first was British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who discovered the giant bee in 1858 while exploring the tropical Indonesian island of Bacan, and entomologist Adam Messer who became the second in 1981.

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

They had some information about the bee’s habitat and behaviour from Messer’s paper, and they examined satellite imagery to become familiar with the terrain.

The team also knew that the giant bee tended to be found in the lowland forest and tree-dwelling termite nests.

However, deforestation in Indonesia has ramped up in the past decade to pave way for agriculture which has resulted in the shrinking of the bee’s natural habitat.