Lost And Found: The World’s Biggest Bee

The world’s biggest bee, huh? If you’re staring at the title of this blog post and are quivering in your boots, we don’t blame you. The sheer thought of a gigantic bee buzzing anywhere near you or your property is the stuff of sleepless nights!

But if you’re brave enough to continue reading, this Terminix Canada blog features the world’s biggest bee on record. Sure, most bees are small, roundish yellow and black fuzzy things that dance around the plants in your backyard.

Typically, most bees are between 11 and 25 mm long with a wingspan between 11 and 33 mm. However, that’s nothing compared to the behemoth that came to be known as the Wallace’s giant bee (Megachile pluto).

When Was The World’s Biggest Bee First Discovered?

Leading scientist Alfred Russel Wallace first discovered the Wallace’s giant bee in 1858. The bee was found on the tropical island of Bacan in North Moluccas, Indonesia. Wallace described the bee as a large black wasp-like insect, with immense jaws like a stag beetle. After Wallace’s initial discovery, there were no further reports of this gigantic bee for over 100 years.

The Search For The World’s Biggest Bee Begins

After years of fearing that this species would go extinct before any more would be found, Adam Messer, an American biologist, discovered six nests in 1981. He observed them rigorously and recorded some of their behaviours.

This information was vital to the next searches for the Wallace’s giant bee, as scientists now knew to look in termite mounds throughout primary lowland forests. In 2018, an entomologist had collected a single female in 1991. This discovery was never recorded in any scientific journal.

The World’s Biggest Bee Returns

In February 2019, for the first time since 1981, and after many years of searching, a team of scientists and conservationists struck gold. They spotted and photographed a living female Wallace’s giant bee in the forests of North Moluccas in Indonesia.

As long as an adult’s thumb, the female giant bee was four times larger than your average honeybee. It measured in at a colossal 39 mm long with a wingspan of more than 6 cm. Imagine hearing a swarm of these in your backyard. It’d be like a group of tattooed hairy bikers pulling up to a café on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles!

Speaking on discovery of the female Wallace’s giant bee, natural history photographer Clay Bolt was in awe. He said: “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.

“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.”

Get To Know Her

The female Wallace’s giant bee is a black resin bee with very large jaws. These jaws make her look rather terrifying, but don’t worry, she only uses her jaws to collect resin from trees, which she then uses to make termite-proof nests. Her diet consists of nectar and pollen, like the common honeybee.

Are There Any More Wallace’s Giant Bees In Indonesia?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wallace’s giant bee is currently listed as vulnerable to extinction. Nevertheless, there is still hope that we haven’t seen the last Wallace’s giant bee. There is no legal protection regarding trading of Wallace’s giant bee. However, there are efforts to ensure the super rare species doesn’t completely die out.

Robin Moore, a conservation biologist with Global Wildlife Conservation, who runs a programme called The Search for Lost Species, said: “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.”

Leave Hornet And Wasp Removal To The Professionals At Terminix Canada

Rest assured, you’ll never find an infestation of Wallace’s giant bees on your property here in Canada. Besides, we wouldn’t dream of exterminating such a rare species. Remember, not all bees are equal. If you’re having troubles with your more average, antagonistic flying insects, Terminix Canada can help.

We use special insecticidal dust and aerosols to neutralize hives and environmentally-friendly insecticides to make underground wasp nests uninhabitable.

Since bee populations are in danger, we often recommend customers contact local beekeepers to safely rehome bees and bee hives. However, in cases where bee hives are located in an area that poses a danger to human safety, especially in cases of allergies, we are able to control the threat and safely remove bees from your property. Contact us today and see your flying insect control problems buzz off for good!