Three striped stingers sitting on weeds by the side of a road, just minding their own beeswax, were collected by entomologists from the University of California, Riverside and identified as the long-lost species.
This species, last seen in 1956, may have gone unobserved for so long because it doesn’t stray far from its favourite stamens and inhabits an area of only 780 square kilometres. This is the most limited range of any bumblebee species in the world. However, its rarity doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily at risk.
“When an insect species is very rare, or highly localised, it can fairly easily escape detection for very long periods of time,” said Douglas Yanega, a senior museum scientist at the university. “Given that this bee occurs in an area that’s largely composed of national forest and Apache tribal land, it’s unlikely to be under serious threat of habitat loss at the moment.”