Science-- there's something for everyone

Friday, May 14, 2010

Flower petal bee nests

Teams of entomologists in both Turkey and Iran have discovered a solitary bee that lays its eggs in flower petal nests.

Although we tend to think of bees as living in large colonies, nearly 75% of bee species are completely solitary. Those queens must find or make suitable nests each time they lays eggs. Osima (Ozbekosima) avoseta females build their nests out of flower petals.

The nests begin with a layer of flower petals laid into a small vertical chamber in the ground. The queen adds a thin layer of mud, and then a second layer of petals. The nest is now ready to be provisioned with nectar and pollen. That done, the queen lays one egg inside, folds the petals at the top to seal the chamber, and caps the whole thing with mud.

It seems a shame that a creature that raises eyeless larvae in the dark would be the one to choose flower petals for a nursery, but there you are.

Flower petal nests.
Pictures by J. G. Rozen.