Bees To Humans: We'll Make Hives Out Of Your Plastic Trash

Illustration for article titled Bees To Humans: We'll Make Hives Out Of Your Plastic Trash

It's hard to be a bee these days, what with the sinister—and still mysterious—Colony Collapse Disorder decimating millions of hives over the past decade. But a few highly resourceful Canadian species have started adapting new nesting techniques, using plain old everyday plastic garbage to build their homes.

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Rather than going for plants and organic matter to produce their brood cells, these urban bees instead developed a taste for exterior building sealant and plastic bags; not only that, but they actually targeted these materials, as the leaves traditionally used weren't readily available.

"The plastic materials had been gathered by the bees, and then worked—chewed up and spit out like gum—to form something new that they could use," Andrew Moore, supervisor of analytical microscopy at Laboratory Services, told Phys.Org.

Incredibly, the larvae that developed were also completely parasite-free, meaning there could be something in this strange new mixture that actually discourages parasite growth.

In some ways, it seems sad to know that bees need to adapt because we're trashing the environment—kind of like when you see a hermit crab using a soda cap or a piece of junk as a makeshift shell—but this seems like an incredible development. A while back, Gizmodo reported on the real-world/sci-fi potential of bees producing plastic from pollen and feral insects "3D printing" rogue additions to the cityscape. Here's hoping they've got some more tricks up their sleeves to help save themselves from extinction; we depend on those little buzzers for a hell of a lot. [Phys.Org]

Lead photo via Flickr user Bob Gutowski

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DISCUSSION

damianmagista
lazr_dolphins_pewpew

Interesting. I know there are solitary bees that build nests out of flower petals, etc.

Note: Please use the correct photo that represents the type of bee/s found that do this. It is apparently two species of solitary bees. Not the honey bee (Apis Mellifera) as pictured above. They are not only physically different but behaviorally as well. It's like saying, "Swallows make nests of spit" then showing a Bald Eagle.

CCD isn't really a huge mystery. Check with most of the credible Honey Bee Labs (OSU, UC Davis...) and they'll tell you it's a syndrome comprised of about 5 external factors. You see it in commercial beekeeping because those colonies are beyond stressed. When you keep them in a healthy environment you don't see CCD...surprise. Treat an organism well and it survives. Treat it like shit and it croaks.