“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,” Clay Bolt, a natural history photographer specializing in bees, who took the first photos, said in a statement. “My dream is to now use this rediscovery to elevate this bee to a symbol of conservation in this part of Indonesia, and a point of pride for the locals there.”
Nicknamed the “flying bulldog” of insects, researchers had no clue the bee still existed in 2019 until the proof flew right in front of them in the wild.
British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace discovered Wallace’s giant bee while exploring the tropical Indonesian island of Bacan in 1858. He described the female bee, which is about as long as an adult human’s thumb and about four times larger than a European honeybee, as “a large black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag-beetle.”