The Doctor Is In

The Doctor Is In

What do insects do when they get sick? Do they have special things they eat that they know can help them heal? Do they just lie down and die? In the case of honeybee, it appears as if they may just have their own special bees that act as doctors to the colony. Yes, bees have doctors…why aren’t we more afraid of these clearly clever and more advanced insects?

While honeybees are known for their hard-working behavior, even they can get sick, become sluggish and disoriented, and have to take a sick day every now and then. However, for a bee colony, a disease taking over a hive could be disastrous and even spell doom for that specific colony. So, what do they do when they get sick? Well, it turns out that honeybees have what we’ve named nurse bees that tend to sick bees as well as the overall health of the hive. They present different kinds of “medicinal honey” to the sick bees for them to eat. They prescribe different kinds of honey depending on the malady of the bee.

In a study of these bees, the honeybees that were the most ill tended to eat more of the sunflower honey. It has the strongest antimicrobial activity, reducing the level of infection by 7 percent in the bees that ate it. Scientists are now researching whether the nurse bees actually select certain honeys to feed to bees in accordance with what kind of illness they have. This would reveal sophistication in medical care among bee as yet unheard of.

What do you think of the discovery of these nurse bees? Do you think they prescribe specific honey based on a bees’ illness? Could we humans be vastly underestimating the insect world around us?