Sweat-Eating Bees Are Invading US Cities

Sweat-Eating Bees Are Invading US Cities

While most bees get by just fine supping on nectar from flowers, there’s a different kind of bee out in the wild that feeds on sweat — and now, they’re moving into cities to make the most of all that humans can offer.

The Wall Street Journal reports that researchers at Cornell University have spotted a huge increase in the number of sweat-eating bees buzzing around New York — to the extent that a new species of the salt-loving creatures, known as Lasioglossum gotham, was identified in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

While not many people talk about sweat bees outside of universities, they soon might do. At last count, New York was home to 250 species of bees — and 49 of those were sweat bees.

Sweat bees have their name because they use the bodily secretion to keep themselves topped up with salt. They’ll land on any sweating creature — but seem to prefer humans to any other animal — and lap up beads of the stuff to make sure they have enough salt inside them.

Fortunately, the presence of sweat bees shouldn’t worry you too much. They rarely sting and, when they do, it’s not too painful — in fact, their sting rates a one on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, the lowest on the four-point scale. [Wall Street Journal]

Image: Jason Gibbs/Cornell University