Navigation Links
Urban bees using plastic to build hives
Date:2/11/2014

Once the snow melts, Canada's bee population will be back in business -- pollinating, making honey and keeping busy doing bee things. For at least two urban bee species, that means making nests out of plastic waste.

A new study by a University of Guelph graduate and a U of G scientist reveals that some bees use bits of plastic bags and plastic building materials to construct their nests. The research was published recently in the journal Ecosphere.

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.

"Plastic waste pervades the global landscape," said MacIvor. Although researchers have shown adverse impacts of the material on species and the ecosystem, few scientists have observed insects adapting to a plastic-rich environment, he said.

"We found two solitary bee species using plastic in place of natural nest building materials, which suggests innovative use of common urban materials.

Figuring out that the bees were using plastics in place of natural materials took some detective work by U of G's Andrew Moore, supervisor of analytical microscopy at Laboratory Services.

Moore analyzed a grey "goo" that MacIvor discovered in the nests of one kind of bee, Megachile campanulae, which uses plant resins to build its nests,

"Scott thought it might be chewing gum originally," Moore said. His team uses a scanning electron microscope to take highly detailed pictures of items, x-ray microanalysis to determine the elements in the sample and infrared microscopy to identify polymers. They can distinguish the finest detail on the surface of an animal hair.

Turns out that M. campanulae was occasionally replacing plant resins with polyurethane-based exterior building sealant, such as caulking, in its brood cells--created in a nest to rear larva.

The researchers also discovered another kind of bee, Megachile rotundata, an alfalfa leafcutter, was using pieces of polyethylene-based plastic bags to construct its brood cells. The glossy plastic replaced almost one-quarter of the cut leaves normally used to build each cell.

Markings showed that the bees chewed the plastic differently than they did leaves, suggesting that the insects had not incidentally collected plastic. Nor were leaves hard to find for the bees in the study.

"The plastic materials had been gathered by the bees, and then worked chewed up and spit out like gum to form something new that they could use," Moore said.

In both cases, larvae successfully developed from the plastic-lined nests. In fact, the bees emerged parasite-free, suggesting plastic nests may physically impede parasites, the study said.

The nests containing plastic were among more than 200 artificial nest boxes monitored by MacIvor as part of a large-scale investigation of the ecology of urban bees and wasps, a project involving numerous citizen scientists.

The nest boxes are located in Toronto and the surrounding region in backyards, community gardens and parks and on green roofs. They are used by a variety of bee species.

"The novel use of plastics in the nests of bees could reflect the ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human-dominated environment," MacIvor said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Scott MacIvor
jsmacivor@gmail.com
416-844-8093
University of Guelph
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. From urban climate research to the treatment of incontinence
2. New study demonstrates the role of urban greenery in CO2 exchange
3. Britains urban rivers bounce back
4. Urban athletes show that for orangutans, it pays to sway
5. Scientists discover molecular link between circadian clock disturbances and inflammatory diseases
6. New UC Santa Barbara-based project to study contaminants in urban water environment
7. Natural regeneration building urban forests, altering species composition
8. Wind concentrates pollutants with unexpected order in an urban environment
9. Native plants in urban yards offer birds mini-refuges
10. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign awarded 5-year grant from NASA
11. Streams show signs of degradation at earliest stages of urban development
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Research and Markets has announced ... report to their offering. ... global eye tracking market to grow at a CAGR of 30.37% ... Tracking Market 2017-2021, has been prepared based on an in-depth market ... landscape and its growth prospects over the coming years. The report ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute for ... Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window ... imaging data, the first application of deep learning to ... stem cell lines and a growing suite of powerful ... for these and future publicly available resources created and ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... , April 3, 2017  Data captured ... engineering platform, detected a statistically significant association ... prior to treatment and objective response of ... potential to predict whether cancer patients will ... treatment, as well as to improve both pre-infusion ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... The award-winning American Farmer television series will feature 3 Bar Biologics in an ... on RFD-TV. , With global population estimates nearing ten billion people by 2050, ... a growing nation. At the same time, many of our valuable resources are becoming ...
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The Giving Tree Wellness Center announces the ... of consumers who are incorporating medical marijuana into their wellness and health regimens. ... operators of two successful Valley dispensaries, The Giving Tree’s two founders, Lilach Mazor ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... advanced instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments ... consulting, Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services for ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... Mass. , Oct. 6, 2017  The ... work of three scientists, Jacques Dubochet, Joachim ... breakthrough developments in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) ... technology within the structural biology community. The winners ... Scientists can now routinely produce highly resolved, three-dimensional ...
Breaking Biology Technology: