The incredibly rare blue calamintha bee, which is native to Florida, was long thought to be extinct, until quite recently when researchers discovered that the species is more abundant than they realized. Researchers recently found some of the bees near Lake Wales Ridge in central Florida.
Scientists previously believed the bee to be extinct because the main plant that the species depends on for survival, the Calamintha ashei, has been endangered in Florida for several years. Dr. Chase Kimmel, a postdoctoral associate at the University of Florida says that he and a team of researchers discovered the bees on March 9th, in traps that they had set out to study insects.
The bee is considered a “species of greatest conservation need,” by experts, but it is not technically listed as a threatened or endangered species. However, activists and experts began a petition in 2015 to include the bee in the endangered species list. The bee doesn’t qualify to be listed as endangered because so little is known about the species. This is a very strange qualification, considering the fact that animals and insects who are arent well known to scientists are the ones that are most likely to be facing extinction in many cases.
Numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015 show that there has actually been an increase in the number of bee colonies. Beekeepers across the country have been diligently working to preserve and redevelop bee colonies, and according to these recent numbers, their efforts are paying off.
The report indicates that the number of bee colonies in the country has finally seen an upturn, increasing from an all-time low of 2.4 million in 2006 to the current figure of 2.7 million. Still, it is important for conservationists to remain vigilant and continue to ensure the survival of bees.