The Loh Down On Science

Bee Crime Spree

Bees will do anything to score nectar - even STEAL it.

Bumblebees on crime sprees? Stop the presses!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Biologists Ellouise Leadbeater and Lars Chittka of Queen Mary University of London found a dark side to bumblebees. They'll do anything to score nectar--even steal it!

They bite through the base of a flower, making what Leadbeater calls a "robbing hole." Soon, other bees flock to the hole.

Why? Well, the researchers suspect it's for much the same reason a teenager does anything: their friends did it first.

That's right. Leadbeater's team discovered that when law-abiding bumblebees start visiting another bee's robbing hole, it's not long before they're hooked -- and stop getting nectar the old fashioned way.

This petty thievery could have significant ecological consequences.

On the positive side, hole-drilling bees visit flowers they may not otherwise have bothered with, like narrow buds they can't squeeze into the normal way.

The downside? A flower whose nectar has been taken from the base won't get to pass its pollen to other flowers. Plants don't reproduce. Lush green spaces shrivel up and die!

That Bee Movie should be rated. . . R! Children shouldn't see it. No.


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