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Cuckoo Bees

May 17, 2018

The surprising behavior and diversity of bees.

Transcript

This cuckoo bee was named after well-known British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Epeolus attenboroughi. (Thomas Onuferko/York University)

This cuckoo bee was named after well-known British broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Epeolus attenboroughi. (Thomas Onuferko/York University)

BOB HIRSHON (Host):

The secret lives of bees. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Honeybees are well-known for their hive building, honey making, and for generally being busy as bees. But there are twenty thousand bee species, and some aren’t particularly industrious. For example, in the journal ZooKeys,York University entomologist Thomas Onuferko recently described fifteen new species of cuckoo bee: instead of gathering pollen for their young, cuckoo bees lay their eggs in the pollen-filled nests of other bees.

THOMAS ONUFERKO (York University):

The cuckoo egg hatches into a larva that quickly finds and kills the host larva, and proceeds to feed on all of the pollen that was put there by the host female.

HIRSHON:

Onuferko explains that there are more kinds of bees than there are birds and mammals combined. Most are solitary, and don’t sting people. And they exhibit an extraordinary array of surprising adaptations and lifestyles. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon