A species of tropical bee has evolved to eat meat from carcasses. As a result, these bees have gut microbiomes that are more similar to those of hyenas or vultures than other bees.

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>The bees consumed the flesh on-site, storing a kind of “meat slurry” in their crops to bring back to the hive. Roubik hypothesized that, once at the hive, the bees converted that slurry into some kind of glandular substance, which they then stored in wax pots. “Considering animal flesh rots and would be unsuitable as stored food, its metabolic conversion is essential to allow storage,” he wrote. Another hypothesis, proposed in 1996, suggests that the actual flesh is what’s stored in the wax pots. It’s a fascinating instance of evolution, but I probably shouldn’t have read any of this right before dinner.


Well that’s both neat and horrifying.


So, honey varies greatly in flavor depending on food source. Clover, orange blossom, and forest honey all have very different flavor profiles. What must carrion honey taste like?


>Bees are most often noted for their role in pollination: a delightful side effect of their foraging for pollen and nectar. But, not all bees have this plant-based lifestyle. A study published today in mBio reveals that mutations in the gut microbiome have allowed certain bees to not just eat meat, but eat dead animals that are teeming with potentially harmful bacteria. “The vulture bee microbiome is enriched in acid-loving bacteria, which are novel bacteria that their relatives don’t have,” coauthor Quinn McFrederick, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside said in a press release. “These bacteria are similar to ones found in actual vultures, as well as hyenas and other carrion-feeders, presumably to help protect them from pathogens that show up on carrion.” While their vegetarian cousins have pouches on their legs for storing pollen, these “vulture bees” were seen storing chicken used in bait traps. And, while they don’t have stingers to defend themselves, they are able to bite potential predators using an extra tooth they’ve evolved along the way to tear bits of meat from the source.


I wonder what the honey is like