Extremely Rare Blue Bee Spotted in Florida Museum

Extremely Rare Blue Bee Spotted
The blue bee, or the Osmia calaminthae. Photo: Florida Museum of Natural History

An extremely rare blue bee last seen four years ago has been rediscovered by a researcher at the U.S. Florida Museum of Natural History.

Researcher Chase Kimmel couldn’t take his luck when he saw an extremely rare blue bee, the Osmia calaminthae. He caught the eye of the insect while installing a bee flat with a volunteer. That was near a Clinopodium ashei, a rare plant on which the species depends for food.

“I was open to the possibility that we wouldn’t find the bee at all, so the moment we saw the insect in the field was really exciting,” he said in a press release from the U.S. Florida Museum of Natural History, the museum for which Kimmel works. Although the researcher had already spotted the bee in March, the news was only sent out into the world this month. The museum wanted to be absolutely sure that it was indeed about the blue bee. The species was last seen in 2016.

Native to Florida

The Osmia calaminthae is not common in Belgium. What’s more, the species is native to the US state of Florida and the blue bees are only seen around the Lake Wales Ridge ridge, an ecosystem that is rapidly disappearing.

The blue bees do not live in a large colony and fall under the masonry bees as they brick their eggs in walls. Every female builds a nest and doesn’t take care of her young. Other than that, not much is known about the insect. Together with a colleague, Kimmel is now conducting further research into both the population and the nesting and eating behavior of the remarkable species.