Friends with BEE-nefits

In our lockdowned times, perhaps most of us can relate with a feeling of wanderlust - the wish to just go somewhere, anywhere! Satisfying this wish is much easier if you are a mite, than if you’re a human. (Yes, you read that right, a mite.) If you are lucky enough to be a mite, all you have to do is wait for a sweat-bee to come along, and catch a ride on a fringe of conveniently placed hairs on her back. These hairs lead to a large, smooth-walled chamber especially adapted for you (I don’t imagine you’d have to wait long for the ride either - most species of the Lasioglossum genus will do, and there are 1700 of them). Your flying bee-riot - sorry, chariot - keeps making stops, and you could get off whenever you like, but the best thing to do is to wait till the bee gets home. Once you’re there, you are treated to wonderful varieties of fungi that have grown on the pollen there, as if you’re the honoured guest they’ve been waiting for.

In a sense, you are. The bees don’t want their honey and their babies infected by the fungi, and they’re all too happy to have you eat it all. Once you’ve had your fill, you can stay awhile, or catch a ride again, with your wanderlust satisfied, and maybe with your tribe increased too…

Being friends is important, benefitting and being benefittted is important.There are a million other such stories out there, of friends with benefits. New friends, made just a few centuries ago, or old friends, who have co-evolved...

I wonder, now, is there any species that considers us their friends...?

Last modified onSunday, 18 October 2020 15:03
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