Insects are adjusting to climate change and human waste in incredible ways, one of which was noted in a recent study written by York University biologists. Bees are using plastic waste to build nests – a new type of behavior considering that bees usually use only natural materials. The observed bee colony incorporated glossy white plastic in their nest, replacing about 23 percent of the leaves they normally use.
A team led by York University PhD candidate Scott Maclvor set up “trap nests” and observed the behavior of an alfalfa leafcutter bee colony in Toronto. Upon inspection of the nesting tubes the researchers were surprised to discover a piece of white plastic bag incorporated into the cavity. This bee species, which usually collects resin, seems to have adapted man-made materials into their habitats.
The artificial material hasn’t necessarily affected the health of bees in a negative way. However, the plastic material didn’t behave in the same way as leaves, which stick together with ease and some of this plastic waste has been shown to prevent bees from breathing as they normally would.
While many are going extinct, some animal species are showing a remarkable ability to adapt to environmental changes and the negative consequences of human impact on the planet. With their newly developed building techniques, urban bees seem to be at the forefront of this trend.