Scavenger bees, a species that eats meat and alerts science

When you think of bees, surely the first thing that comes to your mind is that insect that goes from flower to flower collecting pollen to take to the hive; but perhaps you had not imagined that there is a species capable of eating meat. Just as you read it; because, now we will share with you the latest research on scavenger bees.

These are insects that belong to the genus trigona and do not have a sting, their main food is carrion-based; hence they are also known as vulture bee. The peculiarity of this insect has generated multiple reactions among researchers.

Carrion bees produce a honey-like substance that has high protein secretions, which are the product of the hypopharyngeal glands of this insect. And although they look like something out of a science fiction movie, scientists discovered them in 1982.

In the specialized environment mBio released a study conducted by the University of California, Riverside, in which they exposed how these insects have evolved and modified certain characteristics since they were first discovered.

Scientists continue to study this vulture bee | Source: Youtube @Geras Andrade

These insects, which are more similar to wasps, have gut microbiomes that are common in animals such as hyenas or vultures; In the world of entomology they are known as “obligate ghouls”, since it is their body that requires them to have this type of diet.

Scavenger bees have the ability to enter the body of corpses through the eyes, but they are also capable of penetrating the entire organism; Perhaps the most striking thing about the finding is that there are at least three groups that act in this way.

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Trigona hypogea, Trigona crassipes and Trigona ghoul; None of them have stingers, but they do have large, pointed teeth, by means of which they can penetrate the flesh of their victims.

“These are the only bees in the world that have evolved to use non-plant food sources, which is quite a remarkable change in eating habits,” entomologist Doug Yanega expressed in the study.

Regarding the line of research, the UCR researchers specified that these scavenger bees have acid bacteria that others of the same genus do not have.

“The change in diet may have led to the extinction of the symbiote and the replacement of microbes that can decompose the carrion, or the central microbiome of the stingless bee may persist, suggesting that these microbes evolved along with the bee during its change their diet and are adapted to a new source of protein ”, they detail in the study published in mBio.

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