7th Dec 2012

Feasting on Sweat And Tears

If you thought bees just collected nectar from flowers, then think again. While the European honey bee is the most well-known species, there are thousands of other wild bee species that don’t produce much honey at all—and some of these feast on human body fluids. Lasioglossum gotham was discovered in 2010 in Brooklyn, New York, and it literally uses humans as a salt lick by landing on the skin and drinking perspiration. It prefers human sweat over animal sweat because the human diet is so salty that our sweat is saturated with the essential nutrient—but the species is not well known, because it is tiny, unobtrusive, and rarely stings. Even more bizarrely, entomologists have found a related species native to Thailand called Lisotrigona, which drinks both human and animal tears as a source of protein and salt. To study them, researchers used themselves as bait with eyes wide open. The bees would alight on their faces and attach to the eyelid to consume tears, staying there anywhere from thirty seconds to two and a half minutes. They were often so gentle that the host would have to use a mirror to check the bee was there—but if more than one came to drink (up to seven were recorded at one time), the experience was unpleasant because they attached themselves tenaciously and caused a strong tear flow. Overall, the researchers let 262 bees attach themselves to their faces. For science.

(Image Credit: 1, 2)

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    Feasting on Sweat And Tears If you thought bees just collected nectar from flowers, then think again. While the European...
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