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You are watching: How big is the biggest bee

It turns out the the world’s largest bee is not extinct. An global team the scientists and conservationists spotted and also photographed a Wallace’s huge bee in the forests of phibìc Moluccas, one island group in Indonesia, in January 2019.

The Wallace’s large bee (Megachile pluto) – through a wingspan much more than 2.5 customs (6 cm) – is Earth’s largest. Despite its conspicuous size, the big bee has been lost to science because 1981.

Clay Bolt, a natural background photographer specializing in bees, take it the first-ever image and video clip of a live giant bee. Bolt claimed in a statement:

It was absolutely breathtaking to view this ‘flying bulldog’ of pest that us weren’t certain existed anymore.

To see just how beautiful and huge the types is in genuine life, to hear the sound that its huge wings thrumming together it flew past my head, was just incredible.


The female gigantic bee provides her colony in active termite mounds in trees. She uses her huge mandibles come collect difficult tree resin to line the nest and protect that from invading termites. In heat, humidity and sometimes torrential downpours, the team searched dozens the termite mounds in hopes of discovering a gigantic bee.

It wasn’t till the critical day that a five-day protect against in an area of interest that the team finally found a solitary female Wallace’s large bee life in a termites’ swarm in a tree around 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) off the ground.

Simon Robson through a live Wallace’s gigantic bee in Indonesia. Picture via Clay Bolt.

The punishment is named after british entomologist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), the co-discoverer alongside Charles Darwin of the concept of evolution through herbal selection. Wallace found the gigantic bee on the Indonesian island the Bacan. He explained the woman bee, i beg your pardon is about the length a human being thumb, together

… a large black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws choose a stag-beetle.

The bee wasn’t seen again until 1981, as soon as an entomologist rediscovered the on three Indonesian islands and also was able come observe few of its behavior, including how it provides its mandibles to gather resin and wood because that its nests. Because then, other teams have actually looked for the bee, however with no luck.


The find resurrects hope that more of the region’s woodlands still harbor this an extremely rare species, said team member Simon Robson from the school of Life and also Environmental sciences at the university of Sydney. That said:

Amid such a well-documented global decrease in insect diversity it’s exorbitant to find that this iconic species is still hanging on.

Although tiny is known around the bee, the species depends on primary lowland forest for resin and also the swarms of tree-dwelling termites, Bolt said. In Indonesia, forest devastation for agriculture, however, intimidates the habitat because that this species and many others.

Photographer Clay Bolt, left, and also a guide, Iswan, photographing the bee’s nest in the phibìc Moluccas the Indonesia. Photo via Simon Robson/New York Times.

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Bottom line: researchers found and photographed a Wallace’s gigantic bee – the world’s largest bee and also feared extinction – in Indonesia in January 2019.