According to a recent article di Doug Yanega, an entomologist at the University of California, a species of bee unique in the world has developed an extra tooth for eating meat by evolving beyond the use of food sources produced by plants.
In summary: carnivorous bees with liver similar to that of vultures. This type of bee found in Costa Rica has a very different microbiota from that of the typical "non-carnivorous" bees. Among the bacteria found in the intestines of these bees, lactobacillus (found in fermented foods) and carnobacterium, associated with the digestion of meat.
Caught with a bait
The research team headed to Costa Rica to study these bees more closely. Once there, they made a special bait using raw chicken made slippery by petroleum jelly (to keep ants away). A bit of waiting and the "carnivorous" bees peeped out, collecting the chicken in the small "tanks" placed on the hind legs, those normally used for pollen.
Pictures? For me who am afraid of simply scary bees.
To contribute to the research, the scientists collected 'carnivorous' bees and 'omnivorous' bees (which were shown to feed on both meat and pollen) and found that the microbiomes of exclusively carnivorous bees harbor the most extreme changes.
Quinn McFrederick, another entomologist involved in the study, says the carnivorous bee microbiome is enriched with "acid-eating" loving bacteria, which others do not have. "It is similar to the microbiomes found in vultures, as well as other carrion eaters such as hyenas." Basically my nightmare.
From carnivorous bees a honey… of meat?
Scientists say the honey produced by these carnivorous bees is still sweet and edible. Bees store the meat they collect in an area separate from honey, and keep those chambers sealed for two weeks before even accessing them.
The researchers plan to dig deeper into the microbiomes of carnivorous bees - they are confident they can learn more about the more important role these microbes play in overall bee health.