From 2017-2018, researchers at the Argentina National Institute of Agricultural Technology have created an artificial wooden nest for wild bees. Unlike bees with large nests, including queen bees and worker bees, wild bees often dig their nests and lay larvae there.
Their nests are often built to fit together and form a long rectangle, only a narrow, hollow hole to get in and out of the nest. Bees often spoil their leaves, wings and mud to disguise the nest.
However, among 63 groups, there are several groups using plastic bags or plastic films to line inside the nest. They are covered in the same way that bees use leaves to shield their nests. According to the research team, the pieces of plastic cut by bees are very careful. It is similar in size and shape of nails.
The plastic pieces are then arranged by bees in overlapping patterns in their nests. Based on the collected material, the team said that these plastic pieces came from plastic bags (plastic bags) or plastic wrap. It is possible that the bees mistakenly thought of this material as leaves.
Among the three groups, plastic is used as shielding material, an unfinished nest and no larvae in it. In the other two teams, one larva died and the other was not found. It is possible that this child was fortunate to survive and continue to molt into a bee.
How do bees use plastic to build nesting materials?
Previously, there were many documents that recorded the status of bees made of plastic pieces. Researchers have also found many cases of bees using plastic as a building material.
In 2013, an article published in Ecosphere revealed how bees use plastic films and their saliva to nest in areas throughout Toronto, Canada. Similar to the bees in Argentina, wild bees observed in Canada have also begun to cut leaf-like plastic pieces to line their nests.
Notably in the study of bees in Canada showed that bees not only use plastic pieces from plastic bags but also use rubber latex or gum residues.
Conclusion from the two studies emphasized, it will take more time to understand the potential impacts of bees using plastic materials for nesting. However, through these two studies, bees are indeed able to adapt to the change of habitat even though there are leaves available for bees to be found in both places.
Bees always face many dangers, including pesticides, destroyed habitats, viruses or parasites. So researchers speculate that plastic can help fight common problems in the nest such as mold and parasites.
Of course this is not the first time animals use waste to protect their habitat. Sparrows and birds will often nest with cigarette butts to scare off parasites. Or like black kites in the Alps, the idea is to collect bright plastic strips and decorate the nest to attract mates.
More research is needed to know whether plastic is harmful to bees, but certainly beyond some of these benefits, plastic has never been a friendly material for humans and animals. in general.
Hollis Woodard, a bee researcher at the University of California Riversides Woodard Lab, is not surprised that he pulls plastic into the nest and thinks that it is largely caused by human consciousness.
Woodard shared: "I think it's a sad story, rather. It's an example of the problem of using and spreading plastic materials out of the environment."
Plastics are often a threat to wildlife because extremely small pieces of plastic can spread under water and enter the bodies of many aquatic species. Then the plastic continues to circulate to other terrestrial animals after they ingest aquatic species. Although so far no studies have found that bees can eat plastic.
This research has been published in the recent Apidologie magazine.
Refer to National Geographic