A rare blue bee scientists thought might have become extinct has been rediscovered

The metallic navy insect, a blue calamintha bee, had only been previously found in four areas "totaling just 16 square miles of pine scrub habitat at Central Florida's Lake Wales Ridge," the Florida Museum said.
The metallic navy insect, a blue calamintha bee, had only been previously found in four areas "totaling just 16 square miles of pine scrub habitat at Central Florida's Lake Wales Ridge," the Florida Museum said. (KPRC)

(CNN) – An extremely rare blue bee that was last seen four years ago has been rediscovered by a researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History.

The metallic navy insect, a blue calamintha bee, had only been previously found in four areas "totaling just 16 square miles of pine scrub habitat at Central Florida's Lake Wales Ridge," the Florida Museum said in a news release.

The discovery marks an incredible breakthrough as scientists race to learn more about the blue bee, which is currently listed by Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan as a species of greatest conservation need.

"I was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all so that first moment when we spotted it in the field was really exciting," postdoctoral researcher Chase Kimmel, who found the bee, said in the release.

Kimmel spotted the bee, known for its unique way of collecting pollen, when he and a volunteer were installing a bee condo in the Lake Wales Ridge near some Ashe's calamint -- another threatened species that blue calaminthas depend on for food.

"We observed a shiny little blue bee grabbing the flower and rubbing its head on the top portion of the flower two or three times before moving on to another flower," Kimmel told CNN.

"In reading about this unique behavior we were pretty shocked to see it."

After catching the bee in March, the researcher used macrophotography and checked in with lead authors who studied the species to confirm the insect was a blue calamintha.