Florida’s Long-Lost Blue Bee Has Been Rediscovered

The wildlife is very important for our planet and as a result of our numerous actions the number of many species is on a dramatic decline and many of them are even extinct. Hence, conserving wildlife habitat is highly important if we want to prevent species extinctions. One of the ways would be improving public access to natural resources, which has been a goal of many organizations and individuals.

The bee population has experienced a drastic drop in count in the last decades and it is on the verge of extinction, which must be prevented by all means. Bees are natural pollinators providing 30% of our crops and offering us food on the table. Not to mention the fact that many ecosystems depend on the existence of the bees.

The Blue Bee

Osmia calaminthae, or also known as the blue bee is a species of which not many people are aware of. It is distinctive from the rest of the bees by its unique blue color found in a small area in four places in Florida. However, lately this bee has not been seen, which resulted in the belief that this bee has completely disappeared. Fortunately, it was again spotted in that area, and although it has reached the verge of extinction the blue bee still does not have a protective status. It is considered to be a “species of greatest conservation need”, and the main host plant used by the bee, Calamintha ashei, is protected by the state as an endangered species, but not the bee. Activists have tried to do that in 2015 by signing of a petition, but it is still not put on the list of endangered species because there is not enough solid data.

Research Incentive for Protecting the Blue Bee

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is at the moment funding the research for the blue bee. This foundation since 1994 has granted over $43 million to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and many other private and public partners for conserving nature. Now the focus of this foundation is on the ongoing research for the blue bee, led by Chase Kimmel, a postdoctoral researcher.

In the beginning, Kimmel did not believe that they would be able to detect this bee species, but to the greatest surprise to him and to the whole team the blue bee reappeared again. This was really exciting moment for the whole team hoping that now they would be able to fulfill all the gaps that existed about this species.

Kimmel states that this a solid proof how little people know about the insect community and that there is a great need of research to determine all the facts about this world. The reappearance of the blue bee will offer the researchers the availability to find out more about this specific species of bee. The importance of its existence for the other insects, animal feed, and nature in general.

Naturally, there are still questions that need to be answered about this species so that it can be out on the list of the endangered species, but they are working really hard to achieve that.

He states that the management accountable for the problem of plants and the population of this bee has caused the whole situation. It should have been focused on methods that have initiated it like burning vegetation that included flowers, which support the survival of the blue calamine bees.

Unexpected Obstacles – the COVID-19

The research is currently being halted due to the preventive measures of COVID-19, the issued lockdowns by governments in the world.

Kimmel has permission from the University of Florida to continue working at the station, but the other team members are not allowed. Since the best bee flight seasons are from mid-March to early May the research cannot be followed through.

They have done an incredible work so for, but due to obvious reasons the complete data cannot be obtained and the list of endangered species cannot still include the blue bee.

Let us hope that the crisis will be over soon so that we can focus on other things like the bees that are of great importance for our planet.

Sources:

moon-child.net

cbsnews.com

floridamuseum.ufl.edu