Scientists Rediscover "Extinct" Florida Bee

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/16/us/florida-blue-calamintha-bee-trnd/index.html

It’s always exciting when something is “rediscovered!”

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Nice to read about this bee, amazing that a bee can go undetected for 4 years in Florida.

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That is cool news. Still, I was a bit taken aback to read the following in that article followed by a picture of a bee impaled on a pin.

After catching the bee in March, the researcher used macrophotography and checked in with lead authors who studied the species to confirm the insect was a blue calamintha.

Um… I supposed it was not the last of it’s kind; and, hopefully, not a female.

A solitary native bee, the blue calamintha does not live in a large colony. Each female builds a nest, and does not care for its young.

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Most bees are not identifiable without collecting them. This looks like a bee in the genus Osmia, of which there are several dozen species that look the same in most photos. Thus in order to properly document that the species still exists, bee scientists must collect the bee.

It is a challenge we are finding in many parts of the insect world. We cannot know what we lost if we didn’t know what we had. But many insects are not identifiable to species from a photo and very few people are willing to collect them to confirm. So we may be losing many species of hard to ID taxa, but just don’t have the data to show it.

Also, as a side note, if it was the last specimen (unlikely due to limited sampling), then it was already too late due to the weird genetic system of bees. https://www.pnas.org/content/102/30/10742.short

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I, personally, found this article particularly helpful in explaining the importance of insect collection, perhaps you might find it interesting:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228500262_Why_we_kill_bugs-the_case_for_collecting_insects

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I never know what to think in these cases either, i prefer not to know much about the procedures that scientists perform in order to contribute to science.

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This is a good article about why insects need to be collected. Years ago I was involved in a Moth Count at Congaree National Park. My role was limited to taking the contents of buckets and sorting them by species as much as possible for a scientist to then identify and count. (We did this one weekend a month for an entire year.) When I told my husband the methodology he said, “that’s a count? are you deducting them?” I asked the researchers the following week about his concern and they explained that for every one we take there are probably 600 more. Understanding the moth presence and populations was a huge point in time effort that took this kind of rigorous approach. It won’t be repeated again for many years, probably decades, I’m sure.

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