In urban areas bees are making hives out of plastic

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A new study has been released that shows that bees in urban areas are building their nests out of plastic.

The study observing the ecology of modern bees, as reported in EcoSphere, has surprised the scientific community with its findings.

“Bee nests are sometimes constructed within hollow twigs or other similarly constricted natural cavities, but often are in burrows in the ground.” (Source) Traditionally these leafcutter bees would make their nests exclusively out of leaves and plant resin.

The University of Guelph study shows that bees are demonstrating surprising adaptability to their modern environment and are making use of the tools at hand. Moreover, scientists suggest that while a plastic-rich environment is often detrimental to the well-being of plants and animals, the polyurethane parts of the bees’ nests are creating a barrier to parasites, allowing the larva to thrive.

ZME Science reports that “[…]the bees actually manipulated the plastics differently. It’s not like they mistook it for plants – they actively sought it and developed a new mechanism to process it for their nests. Markings showed that the bees chewed the plastic differently than they did leaves, nor were the leaves hard to come by in their nests’ vicinity.”

NewsDaily has more on the research:

It’s an important discovery because it shows bees’ resourcefulness and flexibility in adapting to a human-dominated world, says lead author Scott MacIvor, a doctoral student at York University and a 2008 U of G graduate.

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Continue reading here.

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