Florida’s Long-Lost Blue Bee Has Been Rediscovered

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Conserving important wildlife habitat, preventing species extinctions, and improving public access to natural resources is a goal of many organizations and individuals and the subject for many researchers.

Probably a small number of people are aware that there is a species of bee known as Osmia calaminthae, which differs from the average bee in color because it has a characteristic blue color and is found in a small area in four places in Florida. Unfortunately, this species of bee has rarely been noticed lately, so many world scientists thought that it disappeared forever until recently they noticed it in that area.

The Level of Bee Protection

Although this problem has been present for some time, currently this bee does not have a protective status. It is actually considered a ‘species of greatest conservation need’, but has not been protected at either the state or federal level, while the main host plant used by the bee, Calamintha ashei, is protected by the state as an endangered species. There have been attempts to do it in 2015 with the signing of a petition, but it is still waiting for that status to be resolved as there is not enough qualified information.

Encouraging Research for Blue Bee

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, since 1994 has given away more than $43 million in grants to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and many other private and public partners for protecting nature, so now funds the ongoing research for blue bee, led by Chase Kimmel, a postdoctoral researcher.

Kimmel was skeptical at first that the bee would be found at all, but when they first spotted it, it was a very exciting moment for the whole team and the hopes that all the gaps that existed would be filled are getting closer to reality.

According to him, it is an indicator of how little people know about the insect community and that it is necessary to make a lot of tidy discoveries in order to confirm the assumptions.

Researchers expect to get results about this specific species of bee and its impact on other insects, animal feed, and many other data of this nature.

There are a number of questions, for which Kimmel thinks it is too early to give answers, but it is of great importance that the bee is included in the list of endangered species, which is why this research is being conducted.

Kimmel believes that the management responsible for the problem of plants and the population of this bee is responsible for the whole situation, and it should be especially focused on methods, which include burning vegetation, including flowers that support blue calamine bees.

Additional Obstacles – COVID-19

Unfortunately, what is currently hampering this research the most are the measures being taken because of COVID-19, the closure around the world.

Kimmel was specifically allowed from the University of Florida to continue working at the station, but now there is no allowance for other team members, so the best bee flight seasons from mid-March to early May cannot be used to find and track them.

Despite Chase’s fantastic job, from which a lot of great data is obtained, the lack of people in the field due to the COVID-19 virus prevents the complete efficiency of this research.

Sources:

wildlifeflorida.org

www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu

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