World's largest bee spotted for first time in almost forty years

Don’t mess with this queen bee, she’s king of her species!

A female Wallace’s giant bee, long thought to be extinct, has been rediscovered on a primitive Indonesian island in the North Malukus.

With a wingspan of 2.5 inches and a length as long as a human adult’s thumb, the bee species is the world’s largest — and roughly four times larger than a European honeybee.

Scientists in 1981 last witnessed Wallace’s giant bee, which is named after British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who collected it in 1858, reported BBC News.

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close up of honey bees flying
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HOMESTEAD, FL - MAY 19: A honeybee is seen at the J & P Apiary and Gentzel's Bees, Honey and Pollination Company on May 19, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. U.S. President Barack Obama's administration announced May 19, that the government would provide money for more bee habitat as well as research into ways to protect bees from disease and pesticides to reduce the honeybee colony losses that have reached alarming rates. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In January, a research team journeyed through Indonesia in an attempt to photograph the insect.

“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 natural history photographer Clay Bolt. “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.”

Forming nests in termite mounds, the female uses her massive jaw to collect tree resin to safeguard her home from termites.

The discovery has given hope that the islands host other exotic and rare insect species that have yet to be discovered.

There are no legal protections for the protection of Wallace’s giant bee, a fact that has environmental group Global Wildlife Conservation concerned.

“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,” said Global Wildlife Conservation Communications Director Robin Moore.

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