NPR: World’s Largest Bee Is Spotted For First Time In Decades
You might think the world’s biggest bee would be easy to find. But that’s not the case: Until recently, the last time anyone had reported seeing a Wallace’s giant bee living in the wild was in 1981. That changed in January, when the rare bee was spotted on an island of Indonesia.
The Wallace’s giant bee — Megachile pluto — towers over European honeybees. The female’s size has been recorded as at least an inch and a half long, with a tongue that’s nearly an inch long. Add to that a pair of gigantic mandibles, and it’s a bee like no other….
Entomologist Jason Gibbs, who studies bees at the University of Manitoba, says the Megachilidae family of bees use a variety of materials to build nests, from leaves and flower petals to resins and mud.
“There is an introduced species in eastern North America, Megachile sculpturalis, which is closely related and quite a large and dramatic bee to see,” Gibbs said. “Megachile pluto is like that species dialed up to eleven.”…
The world’s largest bee faces potential risks that range from insect collectors to the loss of its habitat from palm oil operations and other activity.
Gibbs agrees with the idea that bringing more attention to Wallace’s giant bee might help protect it. He also says there was a flurry of interest last year, when a single specimen fetched a price of more than $9,000 on eBay.