Cuckoo bumblebees

Friday August 26, 2011 @ 02:38 PM (UTC)

Awesome zoology discovery* of the day: the cuckoo bumblebee!

They are a specialized lineage which has lost social behavior, and lost the ability to collect pollen, and are instead cleptoparasitic in the colonies of other bumblebees. Before finding and invading a host colony, a Psithyrus female (there is no caste system in these species) will feed directly from flowers. Once she has infiltrated a host colony, the Psithyrus female will kill or subdue the queen of that colony and forcibly (using pheromones and/or physical attacks) “enslave” the workers of that colony to feed her and her developing young.
-Wikipedia

Okay, it’s also sort of sad, because bumblebees are adorable. (Just say it to yourself and try not to smile: ‘bumble’.) But it’s also weird and wonderful and unexpected. I love this stuff.

*For the limited sense of ‘discovery’ that means ‘I didn’t know this until I read it on the internet, but the scientific community has known it for more or less ever.’

Comments

A toronto researcher reported that some carrion beetles mimic the cuckoo bumblebee.

Oh heavens…wheels within wheels…

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