Scientists at Colombia’s National University (UN) have discovered a new species of bee in the southern Colombian department of Nariño that has a tongue twice the size of its body, according to monthly university publication UNPeriodico.
Euglossa natesi n. sp., also known as the “orchid bee” or “jewel bee,” is a species recognized by scientists for its luminescent mix of blue, green, bronze and gold, as well as its abnormally large tongue. This new type of jewel bee found near the Ecuadorian border in southern Nariño, has what scientists at the National University are calling the largest tongue discovered thus far.
“This insect is unusual, because it has the largest tongue found thus far and measures two times the size of its body,” said professor Rudolfo Ospina, the director of the biology department at UN.
Ospina said that the large tongue is used to reach nectar in orchids that other species of bees cannot and allows for more pollination of different types of orchids.
The orchid bee is abundant in the lowland areas of the Neotropics — an area of similar flora and fauna that stretches from Mexico and covers most of Central and South America — although Ospina said “it is possible that some species also live in dry and open habitats.”
Euglossa natesi n. sp. is part of the Euglossa genus and was named in honor of UN professor Guiomar Nates for her contribution to the research of bees.