Carnivorous Bees Make Meat Honey
I believe I can say with quite some certainty that everyone has seen a bee at least once in his or her life. Their brightly colored yellow and black striped bodies almost make you think they could friendly little critters. Of course, then you learn that these bright bugs also have a pretty nasty sting that they will not hesitate to use on you if they feel threatened. And then there’s the honey that they produce…possibly the tastiest food on earth. Not to mention that they are responsible for pollinating many of the crops we depend on for sustenance. So, in general we tend to look upon them as an insect that we’re pretty happy to have around…until you find out that they have a carnivorous cousin that could easily star in one of your worst nightmares.
Yeah, you read that correctly. There are bees that eat only meat…and produce meat honey instead of the golden delicious stuff you’re used to. These terrifying versions of the happy bumblebee are known as vulture bees. While most bees get their nutrients from nectar and pollen, vulture bees feast on the meat of dead animal carcasses. This, of course, means that they also need the proper parts to be able to cut up that dead flesh.
Vulture bees have extremely sharp jaws, which they use to butcher their meat meal. And like their vegetarian cousins, they do this with bee-like efficiency. When one bee finds a tasty dead meal of almost fresh animal flesh they then release a trail of pheromones to call over their carnivorous brothers and sisters. Like maggots, they first burrow into the corpses’ eyes and proceed to strip all that meat away, turning an entire carcass into a skeleton within the span of a few hours.
Now, they can’t actually eat all of that meat right away. They are able to use their saliva to break down the meat so they can then suck it up into their special stomach compartment, and transfer it back to their nest. Once home, they take that meat and mix it with their digestive fluid in order to make it edible. This is actually pretty similar to what regular bees do with pollen and nectar. But the whole point of this process is to keep that meat from rotting and preserve the food for them and their young baby bees to eat later. So, like regular bees, they make honey, which in case you didn’t know, basically has a shelf life of forever. Of course, they’re not making the kind of honey you find in the supermarket. They make…meat honey. I wouldn’t suggest trying to see if it tastes as good as the regular kind.
Do you think this meat honey is even safe for humans to consume?