The depictions of bees that we are accustomed to are small cute but ferocious little creatures that are always busy buzzing around. It may be possible that you may never have heard of the big bee. That’s okay. Here is a breakdown of this exception to the rule in the bee world.
The world’s largest bee is known as the Wallace bee. It was thought to have become extinct with the last sighting in 1981. But in 2019, it resurfaced in Indonesia’s forests and true to form its larger size is clearly discernable just at a glance. To put its size into perspective, scientists describe this bee to be as large as walnut with a wingspan almost the length of a credit card. The length of the body is 4cm which is roughly 1.4 inches long. It is known by the scientific name of Megachile Pluto.
Where do they live?
The Megachilepluto females make their home in empty termite nests so they are more grounded that found in the trees. But they don’t just happen on the empty termite nests. They have formidable jaws which they use to burrow into the nest of the termites and chase them out. Once inside they line the tunnels in the nest with sticky resin collected form the trees nearby to keep off the termites and prevent others from entering the new nest.
The anatomy of the big bee
Like their smaller cousins the big bee has a hard exoskeleton which protects it. it also has the head, thorax and abdomen with the abdomen equipped with a giant sized stinger. Apart from the characteristic parts of a bee’s body this particular species of bees has enormous jaws which they wield threateningly when they come under attack. It also uses the jaws to collect the resin and wood to use in the nest.
The reproductive cycle of the big bee
Big bees are holometabolous insects meaning they go through four stages in their life cycle. The first stage is the egg which is laid by the female. It progresses into a larvae then pupae and then an adult. You can differentiate the Wallace bee and other bees that are generally considered big bees like the bumble bee. Not only is the Wallace bee distinctly black in color without the golden coloring that distinguishes bees it also has massive jaws. Also it is not found in colonies like the other bees. This is a loner species with a solitary lifestyle.