Rare blue bee scientists thought may have become extinct rediscovered in Florida

Catherine Garcia

A Florida bee so rare that scientists didn't know if still even existed was found this spring by a Florida Museum of Natural History researcher.

The blue calamintha bee, which depends on an endangered plant, was only ever recorded in four places in central Florida's Lake Wales Ridge region. The bee was last observed in 2016, and wanting to conserve the species, Chase Kimmel, a postdoctoral researcher, and his adviser, Jaret Daniels, director of the museum's McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, set out to determine the bee's current population status, where it nests, and its feeding habits.

Kimmel was able to record the bee in multiple locations, some up to 50 miles away from each other, and he will now work on determining its range. The information he discovers could help get the bee protected under the Endangered Species Act. "We're trying to fill in a lot of gaps that were not previously known," Kimmel said. "It shows how little we know about the insect community and how there's a lot of neat discoveries that can still occur."

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