Here’s something I never thought I might type in an article one day: I’m about to share some good news out of Florida!
Florida gets a bad rap (mostly deserved), but listen – they have some amazing animal life. I saw manatees, some really cool birds, and also dragons at Harry Potter World.
All joking aside, the re-emergence of any species that was once thought extinct is something to celebrate, no matter where it’s spotted.
The blue calamintha bee (Osmia calaminthae), has been spotted for the first time since 2016 – they weren’t discovered until 2011, so if they had gone extinct, they would have led too short of a life on earth for us to learn very much about them.
The blue bees are solitary – they nest alone and feed only on Ashe’s Calamint, which is a threatened plant species found only in Florida. When they were first discovered, conservationists moved to protect their habitat, but they feared it was too little, too late.
Still, researchers like Chase Kimmel wandered the pine forests where they were originally found, not expecting to find them, but maybe hoping.
“I was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all. When we spotted it in the field it was really exciting.”
The Florida Museum of Natural history has launched a two-year study in order to try to figure out the bee’s current population status, and to learn more about the behavior of the species. We’ve never even glimpsed one of their solitary nests, and they have an interesting, head-banging method for knocking pollen loose from flowers that scientists want to learn more about, as well.
“We’re trying to fill in a lot of gaps that were not previously know. There’s a lot of neat discoveries that can still occur,” Kimmel said.
His co-researcher, Jaret Daniels, are hoping to sneak some research in before the end of their short flight season.
“It’s a very time-limited flight. Now is when the bulk of that activity has to take place.”
The current restrictions across the country – and the world – are definitely hampering their ability to put an entire team in the field, but they’re doing their best.
There’s always next year, of course.
Hopefully these little bees will stick around.