4-Year-Old California Girl Discovers Stingless Bee Colonies Thought to Have Disappeared 70 Years Ago

by Madison Miller

A 4-year-old living in California has stumbled upon an exceptionally rare colony of bees.

The two colonies that Annika Arnout discovered are actually stingless bees. This kind of bee was actually thought to go extinct around 70 years ago in the U.S. This honey bee tends to instead live in Brazil and is much smaller than the average honey bee we’re used to.

If you live in Palo Alto, California and you want a peek at these rare bees, don’t get your hopes up.

Two Rare Bee Colonies Discovered

According to CBS News, the young girl is keeping the exact location of these very rare bees a secret. She is doing so to ensure that the bees remain safe at home in her “secret place.”

Only 4 years old, Arnout already has quite the talent for unearthing the great outdoors. She managed to spot what other scientists and experts seemingly have missed. The young girl’s caregiver is biologist Targe Lindsey. She ended up taking her discovery findings to the California Department of Food and Agriculture Plant Pest Diagnostics Branch.

It’s a find that is astounding scientists. These bees do not tend to survive in any kind of colder, non-tropical weather.

This kind of bee is especially popular in Brazil. Back in the 1950s, these stingless bees were brought to the U.S. in the hopes that they would boost the size of various fruit and vegetable crops. The plan did not work accordingly. According to Daily Mail, there are 300 species of stingless bees living in Brazil, including the one found in California. Most of which can still make honey.

The USDA brought these bees to several states with the help of a Brazillian researcher. “He sent them in the 50s to Gainesville, Florida, Logan, Utah, and Davis and Palo Alto. And he said all the bees died in one year,” Dr. Martin Hauser, a senior insect biosystematist, said to the publication.

Future of Stingless Bees

These two colonies tucked away out of sight managed to survive against all odds. They lived untouched and undisturbed, but now the world knows they’re here thanks to the talented 4-year-old. Hauser is fascinated by both the discovery and the young girl behind it. When the two met, he gave her a massive bug book with a sweet note that said, “To Annika, for many more discoveries to come.”

Now that scientists know the stingless bee can survive in California, it’s unclear what the next move could be.

You can take a look at some of these bees with the iNaturalist site if you’re a member. It’s a joint project between the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic. These bees do not currently have an official name, given they have only had occasional chance spotting over the past 100 years.

Some people think they should be deemed “Annika’s Bees.” Given her curious attitude and fascination with the species, it seems like the perfect fit.