The tiny titan then went more than a century without being spotted by Western scientists, only seen again by entomologist Adam Messer in 1981, who was able to observe some of its behaviour on a number of small islands. The females can grow up to four centimeters long and have a wingspan of 2.5 inches. There was little information about the bee's natural history, so finding suitable habitats in which to search was hard.
Little is known about these elusive insects' habits.
One of the rarest insects in the world, the Wallace's giant bee, has been found in Indonesia.
Prior to this discovery, the bee was thought to have become extinct as well before Messer found six nests on the island of Bacan and other nearby islands.
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"Messer's rediscovery gave us some insight, but we still know next to nothing about this extraordinary insect", Eli Wyman, an entomologist at Princeton University and one of the researchers who rediscovered the lost bee, said in the statement.
Wallace's Giant Bee, which Life Science described as a "nightmare" of a creature, was spotted in the Indonesian province of North Maluku in January.
"It was absolutely breathtaking to see this "flying bulldog" of an insect that we weren't sure existed anymore", said Clay Bolt, a natural history photographer specializing in bees who snapped the images of the rare insect and traveled to the island with a team of global conservationists for the expedition.
There were few clues as to where to find the insects, barring the bee's unusual nests, which are carved into active termite mounds in trees.
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The trip was supported by environmental group Global Wildlife Conservation, which launched a worldwide hunt for 25 "lost species".
The team's local guide pointed them in the direction of a termite nest in a tree and noticed something inside moving after shining his phone light into the perfectly round hole in the top. "This bee seems to be very secretive in nature and historically, it has possibly always been somewhat rare", he said.
This bee isn't just huge - it's also the word's largest. The massive bee was rediscovered alive in Indonesia last month, decades after it was last seen.
Wallace's Giant Bee is threatened by deforestation and habitat loss, according to the National Geographic.
Scientists set back out to find the bee after a specimen was sold to a collector for more than $9k, followed soon after by another sale for around $4k.
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