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Sask. researchers find rare bee believed to have vanished in 1955

A rare species of bee that seemed to have vanished from Saskatchewan decades ago has been rediscovered.

Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM) researchers found a Macropis Cuckoo bee in Grasslands National Park, close to Wood Mountain, according to a news release from Saskatchewan's parks ministry.

The rare bee is a nest parasite, meaning females of the species sneak their eggs into other species' nests.

According to the parks ministry, the bee survives by collecting oil exclusively from a single wildflower species known as Fringed Loosestrife.

The sample the museum researchers are basing their discovery on was actually collected in 2013. But that kind of lag time between collection and discovery is not unusual, according to Cory Sheffield, a curator at the RSM.

"For insects collected by museum researchers, it sometimes takes a long time to process and identify all that you've captured," Sheffield said in the news release.

"I noticed an interesting bee that the summer students had just prepared for the collection. It was pretty exciting."

Recorded sightings of the species are rare and most are pre-1960s from Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, the ministry news release said. However, in the past 13 years Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick have also had recorded sightings of the species.

In Saskatchewan, the bee was only seen at Wallwort, northeast of Humboldt, in 1942 and Wood Mountain in 1955.

The species was believed to be extinct in Canada before being rediscovered in Nova Scotia in the early 2000s.

Saskatchewan is home to nearly 300 different bee species, according to the parks ministry. Top Stories

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