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posted by janrinok on Wednesday November 24, @08:53PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ZOMBEES! dept.

When bees get a taste for dead things: Meat-eating 'vulture bees' sport acidic guts:

A little-known species of tropical bee has evolved an extra tooth for biting flesh and a gut that more closely resembles that of vultures rather than other bees.

Typically, bees don't eat meat. However, a species of stingless bee in the tropics has evolved the ability to do so, presumably due to intense competition for nectar.

"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 UC Riverside entomologist Doug Yanega.

Honeybees, bumblebees, and stingless bees have guts that are colonized by the same five core microbes. "Unlike humans, whose guts change with every meal, most bee species have retained these same bacteria over roughly 80 million years of evolution," said Jessica Maccaro, a UCR entomology doctoral student.

Given their radical change in food choice, a team of UCR scientists wondered whether the vulture bees' gut bacteria differed from those of a typical vegetarian bee. They differed quite dramatically, according to a study the team published today in the American Society of Microbiologists' journal mBio.

Journal Reference:
Laura L. Figueroa, Jessica J. Maccaro, Erin Krichilsky, et al. Why Did the Bee Eat the Chicken? Symbiont Gain, Loss, and Retention in the Vulture Bee Microbiome, mBio [open] (DOI: 10.1128/mBio.02317-21)


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  • (Score: 2) by Subsentient on Wednesday November 24, @09:01PM (3 children)

    by Subsentient (1111) on Wednesday November 24, @09:01PM (#1199353) Homepage Journal

    I must have the vulture bees. Someone please smuggle me a few crates of vulture bees so I can release them into my local area.
    It would definitely be an improvement to the local fauna.

    --
    Trying is the first step towards failure. -The Click
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @11:27PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 24, @11:27PM (#1199380)

      Can they be shipped by air freight or do they have to go in the carrion luggage?

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by khallow on Thursday November 25, @12:04AM (1 child)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 25, @12:04AM (#1199389) Journal
      Protip: cross them with killer bees, dose them with nuclear waste, and feed them with elvish and mannish flesh from your own hand.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, @01:19AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 27, @01:19AM (#1199868)

        ZomBees

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by looorg on Wednesday November 24, @09:07PM (2 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday November 24, @09:07PM (#1199354)

    I didn't see it but I assume it's carrion only and that the bees are not attacking living meat critters to feast on them? That said if they jumped and skipped to eating carrion then perhaps they can take another little leap eventually and then it's attack of the killer bees.

    • (Score: 2) by Subsentient on Wednesday November 24, @10:17PM (1 child)

      by Subsentient (1111) on Wednesday November 24, @10:17PM (#1199370) Homepage Journal

      We already have those, they just don't eat you after they kill you.

      --
      Trying is the first step towards failure. -The Click
      • (Score: 1) by Goghit on Thursday November 25, @05:26PM

        by Goghit (6530) on Thursday November 25, @05:26PM (#1199581)

        If we're talking about Asian Giant Hornets (popularized in the press as "Murder Hornets") wasps and hornets already eat meat. Not particularly aggressive but pray they never cross with the African bees that co-evolved with the honey badger. Those little buggers are mean!

  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday November 25, @03:10PM (1 child)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 25, @03:10PM (#1199550) Journal
    I saw this

    In addition, though they feed on meat, their honey is reportedly still sweet and edible. "They store the meat in special chambers that are sealed off for two weeks before they access it, and these chambers are separate from where the honey is stored," Maccaro said

    They store both rotting meat and honey in their hive at the same time. There must be some interesting and complex hive management and biological processes (since honey is normally regurgitated nectar) going on to create (since they apparently aren't eating nectar so much any more?) and keep their honey from being contaminated by bacteria from the meat since the latter has a vast number of rando species in it (there must be something that can live in honey too, if it can get the chance).

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Thursday November 25, @03:51PM

      by looorg (578) on Thursday November 25, @03:51PM (#1199567)

      So they are basically controlling the rot, which might make it a sort of fermentation. Mix in some honey. Are they making meat mead? Drunken little buzzers.

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