Florida’s Long-Lost Blue Bee Has Been Rediscovered

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to stay at home, but nature has taken its time to heal and recover from all the damage we have caused. Scientists even found species that was long forgotten. They even thought that it was extinct.

Experts thought that the rare Blue Calamitha Bee was extinct. However, conservationists were impressed with the latest findings.

Dr. Chase Kimmel is a researcher for the Florida Museum of National History. He has found one of these bees for the first time since 2016.

On March 9, Dr. Kimmel was setting traps and one of his volunteers spotted a strange looking bee.

Dr. Kimmel said that he “was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all so that the first moment when we spotted it in the field was exciting” and they were “pretty shocked” to see the bee. This wasn’t the only bee they found, but the coronavirus pandemic stopped their research.

Osmia calaminthae only thrives in the area of the Lake Wales Ridge. It depends on the endangered Ashe’s calamint plant that grows in the area. According to experts, it’s one of the fastest disappearing ecosystems in the nation.

“We observed a shiny little blue bee grabbing the flower and rubbing its head on the top portion of the flower two or three times before moving on to another flower,” Kimmel said.

Kimmel joined forces with advisor Jaret Daniels. They work really hard on the research to provide protection under America’s endangered species act.

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission grant funds the research through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The project will determine the population, distribution, feeding and nesting habits of the bee. Kimmel explained that “in an ideal world, it would be great to look at how management choices impact the plant and the population of this bee.”

This insect has unique head-bobbing pattern and facial hair to collect pollen from its favorite plant. The Blue Calamintha bee lives alone. This is not the case with other bees. Kimmel said “there are good signs the been can recover,” if the insect is studied and conserved, and “having this bee in more abundance than what we expected is encouraging for its survival— that it can survive in the long run.”

Most of the region is underwater, and the land that’s above the water has isolated areas for these bees and other unique insects.

“It’s one thing to read about habitat loss and development and another to be driving for 30-40 minutes through miles of orange groves just to get to a really small conservation site,” Kimmel said. “It puts into perspective how much habitat loss affects all the animals that live in this area.

We’re trying to fill in a lot of gaps that were not previously known. It shows how little we know about the insect community and how there’s a lot of neat discoveries that can still occur.”

The team looks forward to learn more about other species in the area. They are focused on other insects and plants. Maybe they will find another “extinct” insect. Who knows…