Several specimens of the bee were next found in 1981, but it had not been seen since until the 2019 expedition.
You'd think that the world's biggest bee would be hard to lose track of.
The bee, which goes by the scientific name Megachile pluto, lives in the Indonesian island region of North Moluccas and makes its nest in termite mounds, using its large fang-like mandibles to collect sticky resin to protect its home from the termites.
The average Wallace's giant bee, which is said to get as large as a human adult's thumb, possesses a wingspan of more than two and a half inches, according to previous research compiled by the team.
Little is known about these elusive insects' habits.
But it wasn't until the last day that the team found a single female Wallace's giant bee living in an arboreal termites' nest in a tree, about eight feet off the ground.
To rediscover it, an expedition team led by Clay Bolt and Eli Wyman traveled to the Indonesian island of North Moluccas.
"It was an incredible moment to realise that we came all this way, other people have looked for it, and here we were: filthy and sweaty and we somehow found this insect", said Bolt.
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"It was absolutely breathtaking to see this "flying bulldog" of an insect that we weren't sure existed anymore", said Clay Bolt, a natural history photographer specializing in bees who snapped the images of the rare insect and traveled to the island with a team of global conservationists for the expedition.
The bee was returned to her nest after her starring moment, and the next step is to launch a conservation project for it. "The vast majority of the 20,000 known species of bee in the world are quite calm and not aggressive", he said.
The world's biggest bee has been re-discovered, after decades thought lost to science.
The giant bee's build "communal nests on termite dwellings", according to CBS news. One route might involve elevating the giant bee as an avatar of the local biodiversity, much like what has been done with the Wallace's standardwing, a bird in the region.
For Bolt, the rediscovery of Wallace's giant bee is a ray of light in an otherwise dark time for Earth's biodiversity.
Now that the bee has been rediscovered, Bolt says there's plenty of work left to do towards the species' protection.
Natural history and conservation photographer Clay Bolt described the team's five-day search for Global Wildlife Conservation.
This bee isn't just huge - it's also the word's largest.
As has been the case with other historic perceptions about bees, the king bee turned out to be a queen: the females are far larger than the males, which measure less than one inch in length.