If you are shopping for plastic hardware for your business, you might be surprised to learn that urban bees are also now using plastic to build their hives.

We often talk about the wide use of plastic in modern life and how plastic can be environmentally friendly on the blog. Even knowing how widely used plastic hardware is, we had not realized that even bees are using plastic for construction until now.

At least two species of urban bees in Canada are passing up their usual nest building materials in favor of plastic waste including plastic bags and plastic building materials. Scientists originally thought the insects were using chewing gum until x-ray microanalysis identified the polymers.

One kind of bee is building its nest in part with caulking and other polyurethane based exterior building sealants. The other is recycling bits of polyethylene based plastic bags for the same purpose. The materials were found in brood cells where larvae are reared.

The research was conducted by the University of Guelph and recently published in the journal Ecosphere. As the lead author Scott MacIvor said, “Few scientists have observed insects adapting to a plastic-rich environment. The novel use of plastics in the nests of bees could reflect the ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human-dominated environment."

Interestingly, natural materials such as leaves are still widely available to the bees. At the same time, plastic seems to have one key advantage. Judging from the larvae that emerged from the nests, plastic appears to block parasites better than natural resins.

The use of the plastic appears to be extensive and deliberate. In some cases, plastic now replaces almost one fourth of the leaves that the bees would usually use to build their nests. There is also evidence from the markings left behind that the bees chew the plastic in a different manner than they use for leaves.

This finding is important in that it shows that bees are capable of adapting to the changing environment of a modern world.  This proof of adaptibility is encouraging, especially among concerns that the bee population is rapidly declining due to the widespread use of pesticides.

It all goes to show that plastic hardware is superior for many forms of building and manufacturing. Contact us for technical questions or more information about plastic.

Have you used plastic hardware in a construction project?  Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Looking for more information on plastic manufacturing?  Check out our complimentary Glossary of Manufacturing Terms.

 

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