The story of a single cell within a beehive

The dark story about feces

Larva eat a lot. It’s all good. But they also digest that food and what goes in has to come out. And so we turn to the feces of bee! Yet again, there’s a fascinating story with the honeybee.

In adult bees the food will pass along the gut, digested as it goes, with the remainder leaving the body as feces. In that regard, it’s a pretty standard event.

But for a larva there’s an obvious problem. If feces are simply expelled then she’d be swimming in…you get the picture! How is this avoided?

The start and ends of the gut of a larva are disconnected! As she eats through her food, waste builds up in the early part of the gut but is cannot be passed to the end of the gut. It is only as she has finished her eating phase, around the time her first cocoon is woven, that the two parts of the gut are joined. At that time, the feces is removed from her body. But because her eating is done, there’s no danger that she will eat this.

Faces will also become embedded in cocoon of the larva. This can build up over time. across many eggs and bees in the same cell. This is one reason why you will eventually see brood frames darken, eventually becoming black. Other materials also contribute to this change in cell color.

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