The bandit

bumblebee on honeysuckle

Recently I read an Economist article on bandit bumblebees. These are bees that conduct “nectar robbery”—because they don’t have the long tongues that can reach into elongated flowers, they cut holes in the sides of the flowers and collect the nectar that way. (They’re considered robbers because this process doesn’t help pollinate the plants.) Apparently a recent study has shown that bees that do this are either right-or left-handed when it comes to which side the pollen is stolen from (really!), and that, even more surprisingly, the handedness is learned. Fascinating stuff.

And when we stopped to look at the honeysuckle today, well, there was the perfect demonstration. Though I must say I didn’t check to see which side they were cutting from. Or any very tiny safecracking tools.


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