Rare blue calamintha bee spotted in Florida

Though most Americans have been inside of observing Netflix and cultivating sourdough starter, Chase Kimmel has scoured the Central Florida sand dunes for the blue calamintha bee. The unusual bee hadn’t been noticed given that 2016, but Kimmel’s diligence paid out off. The postdoctoral researcher has caught and released a blue bee 17 moments all through its March-to-Could traveling time.

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model of Blue Calamintha Bee

Experts think the bee life only in the Lake Wales Ridge region, which is thanks east of Tampa in the “highlands” — about 300 ft higher than sea stage. This biodiversity hotspot traces its geological background back to a time when most of Florida was underwater. The large sand dunes were like islands, just about every building its possess habitat. However, this ecosystem is rapidly disappearing.

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“This is a really specialised and localized bee,” Jaret Daniels, a curator and director at the Florida Museum of Organic History and Kimmel’s advisor, explained to the Tampa Bay Moments. The bee pollinates Ashe’s calamint, a threatened perennial deciduous shrub with pale purple bouquets. Experts initially described the blue calamintha bee in 2011, and some feared it experienced presently gone extinct. It is only been recorded in 4 locations within just 16 square miles of Lake Wales Ridge.

Blue Calamintha Bee poking its head out of a plastic bag

“I was open to the chance that we may not come across the bee at all so that very first minute when we noticed it in the discipline was actually exciting,” Kimmel explained. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is funding Kimmel’s two-calendar year review.

In advance of the Ashe’s calamint started blooming this spring — and before the pandemic upended some of his investigate procedures — Kimmel and a volunteer positioned nesting containers in promising parts of the ridge. Soon after the bouquets bloomed, he has continued to return and look for bees. When he sees what he thinks is a blue bee, he tries to catch it in a net and puts the bee in a plastic bag. Then, he cuts a hole in the corner of the bag and entices the bee to stick its head out so he can seem at it with a hand lens. Soon after photographing the bees, he releases them. Kimmel states their stings are not way too lousy.

+ Florida Museum

Pictures by Chase Kimmel through Florida Museum

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