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World's biggest bee rediscovered in Indonesia

The bee was first found in 1858 by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace

The world’s largest bee has been rediscovered, more than 160 years after it was first seen on a tropical Indonesian island.

The giant insect is as long as an adult’s thumb, and not a single one of them had been seen since 1981.

Known as Wallace’s giant bee, a team of scientists found a single live female during an expedition to Indonesia’s North Moluccas islands in January.

They filmed and photographed the creature, which is described as being four times larger than a European honeybee.

Named after the scientist who made the discovery, the insect was first seen in 1858 by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace on the tropical Indonesian island of Bacan.

Several specimens of the bee were next found in 1981, but it had not been seen since until the 2019 expedition.

It is approximately four times larger than a European honeybee (Clay Bolt/PA)

Clay Bolt, one of the scientists on the expedition, described seeing the “flying bulldog” of an insect in the wild was “breathtaking”.

Eli Wyman, who joined Mr Bolt on the trip, added: “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.

Photographer Clay Bolt snaps a living Wallace’s giant bee at its nest (Simon Robson/PA)

“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.”

The trip was supported by environmental group Global Wildlife Conservation, which has launched a worldwide hunt for 25 “lost species”.

They include the Fernandina Galapagos tortoise, last seen in 1906, and the Sinu parakeet, last seen in 1949.

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