But according to reports, there are now no laws or restrictions on the trading of Wallace's bee, so its future is not certain. However, in January, a search team found the bee in the Indonesian islands known as the North Moluccas.
The goliath is four times bigger than a European honeybee and unlike its cousin, the solitary creature does not live in a nest with hundreds of other bees. The female's size has been recorded as at least an inch and a half long, with a tongue that's almost an inch long.
Wallace, who encountered thousands of rare and unique species during his expeditions, devoted only a single line of his journal to the bee.
Despite its size, nearly nothing known was known about the female's secretive life cycle apart from that it lives largely alone and burrows in termite mounds, which it coats with waterproof resin.
Mr Bolt continued: "To actually see how handsome 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". One route might involve elevating the giant bee as an avatar of the local biodiversity, much like what has been done with the Wallace's standardwing, a bird in the region.
The bee, which goes by the scientific name Megachile pluto, lives in the Indonesian island region of North Moluccas and makes its nest in termite mounds, using its large fang-like mandibles to collect sticky resin to protect its home from the termites. It's been observed only a handful of times since it was discovered in the 1850s by British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. "I was happy to hear that's not the case". They retraced Wallace's steps in Indonesia and found a nest. The females can grow up to four centimeters long and have a wingspan of 2.5 inches. (Those are the females; males are roughly half that size.) Now, the bee, which has been presumed extinct a few times, has been found again in the wild, a conservation group announced today. They typically build their nests in termite dwellings.
Nobody really knows the population of the bees.
That remote location is a main reason Wallace's bee has been seen so infrequently, said Goulson, who has written several books about bees. A female bee was just found, and she was alive.
The bee seemed "very relaxed", Bolt said. The huge size and apparent rarity of the species has also made it a target for wildlife trade.
Tapia's expedition team also reportedly found additional tracks and scents that may belong to other members of the species, meaning this grand old lady might not be alone.