The rediscovery of the bee was due to extensive sampling of nearly 250 sites across New South Wales and Queensland. Throughout history only six of these bees, belonging to the Pharohylaeus lactiferus species, had ever been caught, the last one in 1923. However, now three separate populations have been discovered feeding on flowers and plants along Australia’s east coast.
“This is concerning because it is the only Australian species in the Pharohylaeus genus. Nothing was known of its biology,” says biologist James Dorey, of Flinders University, Adelaide. “It is one of two species in the genus, and the only one in Australia with its sister species in Papua New Guinea.”
“It is beautiful and we still know almost nothing about what threatens this clearly rare species,” says Dorey. “Again this highlights how little we know about our amazing pollinators and that we need more keen and interested citizen scientists and researchers to work our way forward to both protect, encourage, and utilize these insects into the future.”