That’s the bees knees
● Scientists have discovered why a South African bee has grown such extraordinarily long legs.
Research at Stellenbosch University has found that oil-collecting Rediviva bees‚ first described in 1984‚ evolved legs of up to 23mm long to harvest oil from snapdragons.
“This is one of the few examples where a pollinator had to adapt to the flowers that it pollinates‚ rather than the other way round‚” said evolutionary ecologist Anton Pauw.
Pauw said flowers often adapted to their pollinators in spectacular ways to reproduce.
In this case‚ however‚ Rediviva bees developed front legs of varying lengths — up to
23.4mm in some cases — to reach oil produced at the back of the snapdragon’s twin spurs.
The bees’ front legs are coated in dense, velvety hairs that soak up the oil‚ which is then mixed with pollen to form a super-nutritious bread for larvae in underground hives.
“We were able to show that very closely related bee species often differ dramatically in leg length and that this divergence could be explained by differences in the spur length of the flowers they visit‚” the bee expert said. —
SEX PISTILS: South Africa’s Rediviva longimanus bees have evolved disproportionately long legs, with dense, velvety hairs on them, so they can collect oil from the equally long spurs of snapdragon flowers