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Friday, May 25

Why do honey bees flock to waste water?

Honey Bees consider animal urine mixed water as their 'Complan', says a recent research

Honey bees are known to feed on nectar and pollen from flowers. But ever heard of them sucking waste water, that too from animal dung? A recent observation on honey bees (Apis dorsata)has revealed that they tend to flock on water from animal waste found in the sewage tracts of animal sheds mainly to meet their nutritional needs.

Apis dorsata, honey bee feeding animal waste
Apis dorsata feeding on waste water from animal sheds
Experiments have revealed that bees often show some attraction towards water with animal waste content . An average of 33.33 percent bees were attracted towards water with animal waste content in the experiment while only 20 percent of them were attracted to pure water. Similarly, stingless bees which belong to subfamily Meliponinae are also known to feed on feces and decaying flesh, which is less expected from such 'sweet' insects.

The answer to the unexpected phenomenon lies in the influence certain amino acids have, in the normal growth of a bee. Bees need at least ten different amino acids for their normal growth. Apart from that, they need water and salts to meet their natural growth requirements.

Thus the usual nature of animal urine gives a complete planned food option to bees as it contains sodium (Na+), potassium (K), chloride, magnesium (Mg2+), Calcium (Ca2+) ions, organic molecules like urea, creatinine and uric acid. Other substances like carbohydrates, enzymes, fatty acids, hormones, pigments and mucins are also present in small amounts.

So, in short, honey bees consider animal urine mixed water as a health drink - their 'Complan' luring them to to flock on animal waste just as they flock on to flowers for honey.

Did you ever notice such bizarre insect behavior? Let us know in the comments. 

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