Flesh-eating vulture bees evolved a gut that loves meat

They might not sting, but there is nothing sweet about flesh-eating vulture bees. Many entomologists will tell you that bees are basically wasps that became vegetarian, but a little-known genus of tropical stingless bee – Trigona – has evolved to have a particular taste for raw flesh. They even have a special meat-chewing tooth, winning … Continue reading Flesh-eating vulture bees evolved a gut that loves meat

Bug battle cries: Bees vs murder hornets

Eastern, or Asian, honey bees (Apis cerana) – increasingly recognised as remarkably clever creatures – are known to make various sounds that appear to communicate certain messages, including ‘hisses’ and ‘stop signals’. But the newly discovered sounds, revealed today in the journal Royal Society Open Science by a team of researchers at Wellesley College, are … Continue reading Bug battle cries: Bees vs murder hornets

The key gene that allows bees to collect pollen

Bees: what gives them their ability to collect pollen? It turns out that a single gene is largely responsible, scientists believe. The gene, known as Ultrabithorax, or Ubx, is responsible for leg and wing development in insects. In honey bees, it plays a crucial role in the formation of pollen-carrying structures. “This gene is critical … Continue reading The key gene that allows bees to collect pollen

Pollen patties could help save pollinators

Scientists may have found a way to protect bees from pesticides and help mitigate the alarming declines of these vital food crop pollinators around the world, according to a study published in the journal Nature Food. The US team encapsulated an enzyme that can break down organophosphates – which comprise more than a third of … Continue reading Pollen patties could help save pollinators

Sweet science

Novice beekeeper Nathan Kilah isn’t just in it for the honey. With a complex social structure governed entirely by chemistry, bees are the scientists of the natural world, and getting to know them is well worth the occasional sting. There’s a bee buzzing about 10 centimetres from my eyes, back and forth, distracting me from … Continue reading Sweet science

Physics of birds and bees – sincerely, Albert Einstein

In 2019, a group of RMIT researchers were in the midst of publishing a series of grand discoveries about how bees use their brains, when they got an unexpected surprise from Albert Einstein. Led by Scarlett Howard as part of her PhD, the team had shown that, despite their small size, bees could understand the … Continue reading Physics of birds and bees – sincerely, Albert Einstein

Bee behaviour: what do bees do at home?

What goes on in the beehive? These videos, published in the journal PLOS ONE by Paul Siefert from Goethe-Universität, Germany, and colleagues, give a fascinating insight into what a bee actually gets up to in the hive, by showing close-up clips of honeybee (Apis mellifera) behaviour from behind closed doors. The recordings show how workers, … Continue reading Bee behaviour: what do bees do at home?

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Our hot new neighbour A newly discovered exoplanet might be our best chance of studying the atmosphere of rocky worlds, according to an international team of astronomers. Located 26 light-years away in the constellation of Virgo, Gliese 486b is classified as a super-Earth – bigger than our planet but smaller than the ice giants Neptune … Continue reading You may have missed…

Two interesting new uses for poop

Scientists have discovered two, er, interesting things animals do with poop – in both cases, not their own. Honeybees use it to defend their colonies, while giant pandas roll in it to increase their cold tolerance. Both are effective strategies it seems, but one is a bit messier than the other. An international team of … Continue reading Two interesting new uses for poop

Honeybees have unique personalities, like us

Individuals shape a community and its collective patterns of behaviour – and not just in humans, it turns out. Scientists have discovered that honeybees also have unique personalities, with some being more sociable than others. The study “suggests individual differences can lead to patterns of behaviour that are universal and can transcend species”, write Sang … Continue reading Honeybees have unique personalities, like us

Where to look for bees of different types

There’s a lot more to bees than you might think, because there’s a lot of them. Around 20,000 different species, in fact, and thanks to a new global biodiversity map we now know where to find them. As a rule of thumb, there are more species in the Northern Hemisphere than the Southern, and more … Continue reading Where to look for bees of different types

Tricks of nature, with and without light

The fur of Australia’s unique platypus glows green under ultraviolet light, while at least two species of the country’s bees have adapted their vision for night conditions. These two quirks of nature have been revealed by research teams on opposite sides of the world. The first comes from the US, where researchers had previously discovered, … Continue reading Tricks of nature, with and without light