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Group life facilitates the spread of disease among populations. And humans are not the only species to fight this problem. To fight diseases and prevent their spread, bees have amazing devices.
Bees are able to collect antimicrobial resin from trees and use it to cover the inside of the hive. Particular attention is paid to the entrance to the hive. « It is believed that it is for workers who come into contact with pathogens in the environment, potentially by contact with other bees foraging on the same flowers or with a virus left by a bee on one of these flowers.« Alison McAfee, a researcher specializing in bees at NCSU, explains. For us humans, it’s like washing your hands when you get home.
In bee colonies, different groups of workers perform different jobs. Young bees generally work inside the hive and therefore do not leave it. « They maintain the brood, clean the nests, feed the queen« Alison McAfee develops. Conversely, older bees go out foraging. Thus, the queen and the vulnerable larvae are not in contact with potential pathogens. »It really limits the interactions that foragers have with these vulnerable individuals and it is a kind of social distancing« says Alison McAfee.
Finally, workers are able to find and eliminate contaminated larvae and pupae from the hive: vs’is hygienic behavior. « Workers can detect the first symptoms of the disease by feeling a change in the smell of the larvae« , specifies the researcher. Instead of treating the sick brood and bringing it back to life, they let it die outside the hive. Thus, the sick larvae are sacrificed for the good of the colony and to allow keep everyone healthy.