Bee-Made Flower Nests

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Bee-Made Flower Nests

February 23, 2011
12:47pm
Photo by: Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History

 This amazingly beautiful cocoon is made from carefully layered flower petals. The creator? A bee. Specifically, the Osmia bee. Four different species of this bee, Osmia avosetta, Osmia lunata, Osmia rhodoensis, and Osmia tergestensis, make these unique floral bundles.

Discovered on the same day by two different teams in Turkey and in Iran, these flower nests were written about by an international team of scientists that included professors of plant protection, entomology, invertebrate zoology, and agriculture. (Download and read the entire paper here.)

bee and flower

An Osmia tergestensis  bee bites off a petal from a Geranium pyrenaicum flower. The bee folds the petal tightly before transporting it. Photo by: A. Krebs 

The bees bite off one petal at a time and flies each individual petal back to the nest. When the mother bee has amassed enough petals, she layers the petals into a delicate shell, holding the pod together with nectar and a thin layer of mud.

The bees seem to use different types of flowers to construct their pods, including Geranium, Linum (flax), Helianthemum (sun roses), and others, and did not seem to prefer one type of flower over another.

egg in flower pod
Photo by: Jerome Rozen/American Museum of Natural History

Inside, the bee will deposit one egg, before sealing up the flower pod by folding down the petals. The baby bee will hatch and grow inside, before emerging in the spring from its flowery home.

[via NPR]

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