Rare Bee Species They Thought Disappeared Is Seen For First Time In 100 Years

It really doesn’t matter if we are a fan of bees or not, most of us realize at this point just how important they are to our environment. Perhaps that is why it was so disappointing when a rare species of bee disappeared about a century ago.

In 1923, the species Pharohylaeus lactiferus was seen for the last time and it would be almost 100 years before it was seen again. Up until that time, only six of those bees have been seen, so you can tell how rare it is.

Of course, the bee was rare because it was only part of a limited ecosystem. It was native to Queensland, and bee experts Olivia Davies and Dr. Tobias Smith felt that it was likely extinct because it hadn’t been seen in so long.

Photo: Facebook/James Dorey Photography

They didn’t want to put this species on the extinct list without first looking to see if there were any left in the wild. They looked into 20 targeted sampling sites as well as 225 general sites in Queensland and across New South Wales. Finally, they discovered the bee once again.

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The Conservation is where the report from researcher James Dorey was printed. Along with talking about finding the bee, he talked about why the first part of its name, “Pharo”, was appropriate. The three different abdominal segments look like a cloak because they overlay each other. It may even be more appropriate because the species managed to hide for so long.

They said that this species was always in the area, but it was likely facing extinction pressure because of climate change and the fragmentation of rain forests in Australia.

Photo: Journal of Hymenoptera Research

It was Dorey who discovered the bee, and he said that it is the only species in that genus. The Independent reported that no information was available about the biology of the species.

According to the outlet, Dorey said:

“Three populations of P lactiferous were found by sampling bees visiting their favoured plant species along much of the Australian east coast, suggesting population isolation.

My geographical analyses used to explore habitat destruction in the Wet Tropics and Central Mackay Coast bioregions indicate susceptibility of Queensland rainforests and P lactiferus populations to bushfires, particularly in the context of a fragmented landscape.”

Photo: Journal of Hymenoptera Research

The Pharohylaeus lactiferus is more than just an extremely rare and elusive species of being, they also tend to favor flowers that are only found in those subtropical rain forest. Dorey said that it was a good idea to focus research on understanding more about the genetics of that species.

He went on to say: “If we are to understand and protect these wonderful Australian species, we really need to increase biomonitoring and conservation efforts, along with funding for the museum curation and digitisation of their collections and other initiatives.”

In the end, they aren’t sure if the species is threatened or not but they do say that additional research is necessary to make sure.

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