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Rare blue bee thought to be extinct rediscovered in Florida

Rare blue bee thought to be extinct rediscovered in Florida

A rare blue-coloured bee has been discovered in Florida after scientists feared it had gone extinct.

Rare blue bee thought to be extinct rediscovered in Florida

The blue calamintha bee, known scientifically as ‘Osmia Calaminthae’ was rediscovered in central Florida in March of this year.

Chase Kimmel from the Florida Museum of Natural History told Smithsonian Magazine he couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted the rare insect. “It was a great feeling; those first few nights were hard to sleep due to the anxiousness and excitement,” he said.

“The first few times I found the bee I couldn’t help [but] constantly question my own eyes and judgment on the diagnostic characteristics of the bee. I needed to look multiple times at the photos to confirm their identity.”

The bee was found foraging a violet flower that blooms in the region’s scrub habitats. In total, Kimmel and his team discovered 17 rare bees, with no more than three at a time.

Agricultural farming and urban development has resulted in habitat loss in recent decades, leaving scientists concerned for the bee’s survival. “While we have no evidence of pesticide exposure, it is highly likely that the bees could be impacted by this adjacent agriculture given that they have been found only meters away,” said Kimmel.

Little is known about the rare bee, including the reason behind its indigo colouring.

Molly G. Rightmyer, who first identified the blue bee almost a decade ago says she’s happy to hear the insect was rediscovered. to know that people were spurred to action—that people actually cared enough to go looking for this bee—is very heartening.”

Kimmel and his team are collecting as much data as possible to determine whether the species can be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

While he still doesn’t have enough data to estimate the blue calamintha population in the wild, Kimmel is hopeful the blue bee will return in the coming years. “Every time I find the bee it’s exciting to know that we are getting a better understanding of it and helping it.”

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