Researchers Have Recently Discovered How Some Bee Eggs Hatch

Researchers Have Recently Discovered How Some Bee Eggs Hatch

Have you ever wondered how tiny insect larvae are able to hatch from their eggs? This would seem like a difficult task for a powerless newborn insect. Afterall, insect shells are designed to withstand a certain degree of pressure that favors its preservation. In order to crack insect shells, a certain amount of physical strength must be exerted by the insect larvae dwelling within the shell. But some forms of insect larvae are clearly in need of some assistance when it comes to the task of shell-cracking. Researchers have only recently shed some light on this mystery. It turns out that a fifty year old video showing a hatching bee contained the secret to solving this mystery.

A time lapsed video showing bee larvae hatching was filmed back in 1964. The type of bee that was featured in the video is known as Apis mellifera, or the honey bee. At the time that this footage was recorded it was not treated as anything of great scientific value. However, later on, Jerome G. Rozen, Jr., Ph.D, viewed the recorded larvae under a scanning electron microscope, and he found something that was too tiny to have been noticed with the technology available to scientists in 1964. Rozen noticed spiny structures located near the spiracles of the bee larvae. This observation was peculiar to Rozen because he had never seen any structure like it before. Rozen would not forget about his observation, and his curiosity concerning the function of the spines only grew.

Later, in 2006 Rozen once again viewed bee larvae under a scanning electron microscope, and he was excited to find the same features on a different type of bee; this time the bee larvae belonged to the genus know as Monoeca. After a while, a total of seven different bee families were all found to show similar looking spines that measured around three micrometers. It is now theorized by Rozen that these spines act as a sort of saw that breaks open bee larvae shells. Not only that, but there is also evidence to suggest that these spines release a digestive fluid which softens the hard shells, preparing the shells hatch. There are still many studies to be done before any conclusive results can be attained, but it seems probable that many insect shells are cracked by similar means.

Do you think that insect larvae simply grow too large to be contained within their protective shells, and that is why they eventually hatch? Or does insect larvae possess physical features that facilitate the process of egg-hatching?

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