How Honeybees Evolved From Wasps

Orange County Beekeepers - Strange Places for Beehives - Remove term: Bee Removal Fullerton Bee Removal FullertonWith spring and warmth all around, there are many more insects around, including various bees and wasps. Most people generally have nothing against honey bees but aren’t too keen on wasps. In fact, most of us have wished at some point that wasps never existed. Interestingly enough, if wasps hadn’t been around, we would never have honey bees either.

Most people generally have nothing against honey bees but aren’t too keen on wasps. In fact, most of us have wished at some point that wasps never existed. Interestingly enough, if wasps hadn’t been around, we would never have honey bees either.

Interestingly enough, if wasps hadn’t been around, we would never have honey bees either.

Solitary wasps

The first species of wasps were actually solitary ones, hunters or scavengers with little regard for other specimens of their species except for their offsprings. However, through long periods of time, cooperation became preferable to solitude and the first colonial or social wasps emerged.

Switch to pollen

Wasps were initially all carnivorous, so there has to have been a moment when their ancestors of bees chose to switch from meat to pollen. The prevailing theory states that these insects ate prey which was covered in pollen, leading them to conclude that pollen is a viable and preferable source of nutrition. Since it didn’t need to be hunted, pollen diet required far less energy.

Changes on the body

The earliest wasps were not too dissimilar to their present day descendants. They had elongated, sleek bodies suitable for hunting. However, once bees distinguished themselves from wasps and their predatory ways, this body was far less suited for the lifestyle they had selected. So, once again, through successive generations, the body type of bees adapted to their needs.

The most important change on the outside of the body is the appearance of hairs. These hairs are useful for collecting pollen far more than a sleek body would be.

When and where did this happen?

As with most fossil records, we cannot be sure where or when something first happened. We can only claim that the oldest record shows that an event happened at a specific time and a specific place. And it is so with bees as well. For a very long time, the oldest records we had of bees were around 80 million years old. They were found in South America.

However, these bees are remarkably similar to the present-day bees that live in South America, which led scientists to conclude that they were around for much longer. The problem with proving that is that bee fossils are incredibly rare. The only way to preserve an insect body for so long is in wood sap which fossilizes and turns into amber. DNA sequencing and other scientific method estimated that bees and wasps diverged in their evolutions as early as 130 million years ago, but there was no physical evidence to back it up.

The oldest known bee

Recently, though, a new fossil gave credence to the scientists’ claim, when a 100 million years old fossil of a bee was discovered in Myanmar (Burma) in 2006. What sets this fossil apart from the previous ones we found is that it still retains some traits of its wasp ancestors, while also displaying many of the traits associated with bees. A slight disappointment came when it was determined that the bee is a male, so no detailed study of how it collected pollen could be made (only female worker bees collect pollen).

Today, there are a wide variety of species of bees and wasps, filling every role and niche in their respective biomes. Sometimes, that brings them into conflict with humans. If you are looking for expert wasp or bee removal in Fullerton or the rest of the Orange County, contact Bee Busters.