Bees recycling plastic waste

This video is called Leafcutter bee (Megachile relativa) builds a brood cell August 14, 2010.

By Sarah Laskow in the USA:

Bees reuse plastic waste to build their homes

We write about bees a lot, and we’re starting to think they might be reading. We’re always advocating for the use of greener building techniques, like recycling waste materials, and it seems like the bees have taken that to heart. At least, according to a new study, they’re finding plastic waste and using it to build their nests, Motherboard reports:

The bees they looked at usually build nests in cavities above the ground, and depending on the species, they construct them out of various natural materials such as leaves, mud, and even small pebbles. But as the bees got on with their work, the researchers noticed a few more modern materials making their way into the nests. “It was during inspection of the nesting tubes we discovered non-natural materials built into the nests of two different bee species,” they said.

Basically, the bees are finding different types of plastic that resemble the materials they usually use — leaves or resin, for example — and building their nests with it. And it looks like they’re not just doing this because the natural materials aren’t available:

For the leafcutter bee, they found markings on the plastic materials that showed it chewed them differently to leaves. It also returned to leaf material after using a few bag fragments, which suggested leaf availability wasn’t a limiting factor.

Maybe they’re just tired of finding the plastic everywhere and trying to do their part. Humans could learn something from that.

7 thoughts on “Bees recycling plastic waste

  1. One year decades ago, I found a sparrow nest knocked down by a storm. The birds used cigarette filters and pieces of yarn used to reinforce hose to build it. (These were birds that made their nest on a light fixture on a hose factory.) They also used natural materials in the nest, though about a quarter of it was trash tossed out by humans.

    Also, it isn’t that unusual for cemetery-nesting birds to use grave decorations (ribbon, silk flower petals if they can pull them off, etc.) in nest construction in America since the Memorial Day holiday occurs around the time most birds construct nests for the year’s hatch.

    Roger Tory Petersen, the late ornithologist familiar to American birders (twitchers) for his field guides, told about a haircut he got in the Arctic north when on a field bird survey. The hair landed on the ground around him, and a bird swooped in while he sat there to collect it for its nest! Petersen felt very honored, of course.


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