Florida’s Long-Lost Unusual Blue Bee Has Been Spotted Once Again

The scrub jay, the American alligator, the manatee and the Florida panther are included in the Sunshine State’s iconic wildlife along with the recently introduced Ultra Blue Calamintha bee. The rediscovered bee was very rare and therefore the scientists had the doubt of their current survival. Dr. Chase Kimmel, a researcher of Florida Museum of Natural History, found the bee again on 9th March. The bee’s current population status, its nesting and feeding habits are to be discovered by the postdoctoral researcher and his advisor, Jaret Daniels.
The Blue Bee of Florida was seen for the last time in 2016. According to Dr. Kimmel’s records, the Blue Bee was seen again in three previously seen areas and in another area up to 50 miles away.
The blue Calamintha bee is dependent on an endangered plant and it was discovered only in four locations in the area of Central Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge. Kimmel recorded the plant after the discovery of many locations distancing upto 50 miles from each other. Now he’s working on   discovering its range. His discovery will be able to tighten the protection measures of the plant under the Endangered Species Act.
As per Dr. Kimmel, more research should be carried out in order to identify whether the bee is included in the registration of endangered list and there is much more to discover about Blue Calamintha bee. Since knowledge of the biology of the bee is not sufficient, the objective of the coming year, is to get a record of locations in order to determine its range and to get a thorough understanding of the biology.
The environment it refers to is also not known.  The study is difficult to carry out since it’s a rare insect to find. The majority accepts that a rare insect such as Calamintha Bee should be protected but controversially it’s not included in any of the environmental list or state and federal protection list. Even though this particular bee is not recognized as endangered, it is in the extreme need of conservation.
Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission grant through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, funds the current research on the bee. The research comes in the grant’s qualifications in protection of the important wildlife habitats and prevention of species of extinction. “There was a lack of scientific information regarding the occurrence and life history of the bee [and more] information was needed to make an informed determination regarding the classification status for this species under the Endangered Species Act,” as per the spokesperson at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“I haven’t found the bee in a couple of weeks,” Kimmel continued “I’m coming up a bit short right now.” He states this due to “the season is wrapping up right now.” Discovering the insect in early March as he had, he said, was just a week prior anyone had ever witnessed the bee based on past insect specimens. He claims that it’s due to “it was a very early spring this year. It was very dry.”
As per the data of the Southeast Regional Climate Center, March of this year was the second warmest spring in Orlando and third warmest in Tampa which are two closer cities near Lake Wales Ridge. As a whole “there are good signs the bee can recover,” As per Kimmel, provided that the bee can be observed and conserved as well. “Having this bee in more abundance than what we expected is really encouraging for its survival.”
From the observation of Dr. Kimmel and Dr. Daniels we get to know that the blue Calamintha bee bobs its head to and fro to capture much amount of pollen through its unusual facial hairs. The two researchers are working on the discovery of further information by collecting the pollen gathered from the bees and visual surveys to see whether it visits other flowers apart from Ashe’s Calamint. They have been able to record only one instance of the bee using another flower as the host.
Blue Calamintha is an insect which lives alone in their solitary nests but not in hives like honeybees. Since nests are not found, the species comes under a part of the genus Osmia, which has the tendency of using existing ground burrows, hollow trees or holes in the dead trees as their nests.
But with the prevailing situation of COVID-19 global outbreak, the research of Daniels and Kimmel too has faced difficulties. Dr.Kimmel was granted a special permission at first to carry out his research by the University of Florida to work at the station along with the banning of travel has influenced Dr. Daniel from joining him in the field. Unfortunately the best time of the bee’s flight season and to find live insects falls on the same time of quarantine lockdown which occurred from mid- March to early May.
Along with the assistance of some Florida Museum volunteers, conservation and research procedures are expected to be carried out with fieldwork at Archbold Biological Station and other parts of Lake Wales Ridge. Yet the COVID-19 outbreak has influenced volunteer operations which were hopefully expected by Daniel and Kimmel on further discovery of the bee’s interactions with other insects and the behavior at rummage.
“All of this work is a collaboration,” Daniels stated. “It takes an army to make it happen, you couldn’t do it without all the broader community of assistance that makes a project work to generate good results.”

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