Scientists have discovered that bees use more than their stingers to defeat potential attackers. Apparently, they're perfectly prepared to mummify enemies who can't be stung.
New Scientist reports that researchers from the Swiss Bee Research Centre in Bern have discovered a species of bee - an Australian stingless bee called Trigona Carbonaria - that has developed a previously unseen way to ward off attackers. The team tested their theory by releasing small hive beetles at the mouth of a beehive, and watched as the following occurred:
Faced with such a resilient foe, a group of workers resorted to coating the beetles in a sticky mix of resin, mud and wax. From computerised tomography (CT) scans of hives flash-frozen at 5-minute intervals, Greco's team found the mummifications take less than 10 minutes.
The beetles rarely got very far from the entrance before being mummified. The only time Greco saw the beetle invasions succeed was during a hot Australian summer, when temperatures above 40 °C may have stressed the bee colony and prevented the resin from setting.
Firstly: Thank you science for giving me something else to be terrified about when it comes to bees. Secondly: Someone at Syfy has to realize the Saturday Night Movie potential of "Bees That Mummify Their Enemies," right?
Invading beetles mummified by stingless bees [New Scientist]