Rare Australian Bee Rediscovered
An extremely rare species of bee that hasn’t been seen for nearly a century and was thought to be extinct has been rediscovered by a lone researcher in Australia.
This rare “masked” bee, known as Pharohylaeus lactiferus, is native to Australia and is the only species in the genus Pharohylaeus. It is similar in size to the invasive European honeybee (Apis mellifera). Only six individuals have been previously identified in Australia and the last one was reported in 1923.
A recent survey revealed three geographically isolated populations of the masked bees across Australia’s eastern coast. Each population lives in patches of tropical and subtropical rainforest with a specific vegetation type. It is thought that the bees are particularly dependent on firewheel trees (Stenocarpus sinuatus) and Illawarra flame trees (Brachychiton acerifolius).