Since we have a bit of a thing about bees around here or perhaps just because I have a thing about frightening poor Carin with stories about bees, I feel it necessary at this time to inform you that the damn things have begun evolving into meat eaters. Please enjoy the rest of your evening.
A team of entomologists, seeking to learn more about these pollen-eschewing bees, recently set up chicken baits in a Costa Rican forest. They ended up collecting a bunch of vulture bees (Trigona necrophaga) and analyzed their guts and genetics in detail.
“These are the only bees in the world that have evolved to use food sources not produced by plants, which is a pretty remarkable change in dietary habits,” said Doug Yanega, an entomologist at University of California, Riverside and a co-author of the recent paper, in a university press release.
While ordinary bees have pockets on their back legs to store pollen as they flit from flower to flower, the vulture bees have repurposed the stores as “little chicken baskets,” according to study co-author Quinn McFrederick, also an entomologist at UC Riverside.
The researchers aren’t certain why this is happening, but they speculate that it may have something to do with competition for the nectar and such that bees normally consume, which sounds totally sensible to me.
This is all a tad creepy, but it’s also pretty cool to see evolution in action like this. Just stick to dead things, bees. That’s all I ask.