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Scientists find giant bee nicknamed the ‘flying bulldog’ on remote island after 30 years

Jon Lockett and Toni Hetherington, March 3, 2019 6:15PM The Sun

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The massive living Wallace’s giant bee found on an Indonesian island this year. Picture: AFP/ Global Wildlife Conservation/ Clay Bolt media_cameraThe massive living Wallace’s giant bee found on an Indonesian island this year. Picture: AFP/ Global Wildlife Conservation/ Clay Bolt


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A giant bee with a nasty sting has been rediscovered decades after it was last seen and thought to be extinct*.

The massive insect, which was nicknamed the “flying bulldog” by the scientists who found it, was discovered on a little-explored remote* Indonesian island.

The single, female was found alive and is the size of a human thumb, or up to 10 times as large as a normal honeybee.

It eats nectar* and pollen*, but does not make honey. It has a giant jaw and makes an unusually loud, buzzing sound.

It does sting but unlike honeybees, it will not die once it stings.

media_cameraBee expert Eli Wyman with the first rediscovered Wallace’s giant bee. Picture: AFP/ Global Wildlife Conservation/ Clay Bolt

Known as Wallace’s giant bee, it was first seen in 1858 by British naturalist* Alfred Russel Wallace on the tropical* Indonesian island of Bacan.

Several of the huge-jawed bee were next found in 1981, but it had not been seen since and the species* was thought to have died out.

That was until this year’s journey to the North Moluccas islands in January.

Clay Bolt, one of the scientists on the trip, described seeing the “flying bulldog” of an insect in the wild as “breathtaking”*.

VIDEO: Man creates buzz being covered in suit of live bees

Eli Wyman, who joined Mr Bolt on the trip, added: “To actually see how beautiful and big the species is in life, to hear the sound of its giant wings thrumming* as it flew past my head, was just incredible.

“My dream is to now use this rediscovery to elevate* this bee to a symbol of conservation* in this part of Indonesia, and a point of pride for the locals there.”

The trip was supported by environmental group Global Wildlife Conservation, which has launched a worldwide hunt for 25 “lost species”.

They include:

  • The pink-headed duck, with its bright-pink plumage, last seen in 1949 in Myanmar
  • The Fernandina Galápagos tortoise, last seen in 1906 on the Galápagos’s youngest and least-explored island;
  • The bullneck seahorse from Australia, a tiny seahorse never before seen in the wild
  • A colourful tree-climbing freshwater crab from the Upper Guinea forest block last seen in 1955.

Collectively the top 25 species have not been seen in more than 1500 years.


  • rediscovered: discover something again that has been forgotten or lost
  • extinct: a species that has died out
  • remote: far from people or cities
  • nectar: sugary fluid inside flowers
  • pollen: a fine powder in flowers that helps fertilisation
  • naturalist: person who studies natural history
  • tropical: related to the tropics area
  • species: type of animal or plant
  • breathtaking: astonishing
  • thrumming: loud humming noise
  • elevate: lift
  • conservation: keep something safe or alive


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  1. What is the real name of the rediscovered bee?
  2. What is its nickname?
  3. How long is it?
  4. Where was it found?
  5. What noise does it make?


1. Compare and contrast
Draw a picture of Wallace’s giant bee beside a picture of a normal honey bee, making sure to show the size difference. Write down 3 things that the two bees have in common and three things that are different.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

2. Extension
Choose a species included on the 25 “lost species” that Global Wildlife Conservation are hunting for, then:

  • Write down its name, when and where it was last seen
  • 3 distinguishing features of the species
  • Draw a picture of it

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science

With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

HAVE YOUR SAY: Tell us your thoughts about Wallace’s giant bee with its massive jaw and nasty sting.
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. Comments will not show until approved by our editors.

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