Visits to nutrient-poor plants by golden bees may help protect from disease and parasites thanks to the collection of volatile oils.
"Male golden bees seek out and collect 'fragrances' from orchids and other plants that contain no nutrients.41 Historically we have explained this attraction to strong odors in terms of pheromonal communication, or scent disguise. However, it is also possible that because volatile oils interfere with bacterial respiration and are commonly detrimental or repellent to arthropods and insects, rubbing in or collecting smelly substances could reflect an adaptive preference for compounds that enhance health." (Engel 2002:126)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Engel, C. 2002. Wild health: how animals keep themselves well and what we can learn from them. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 276 p.
- Eltz, T.; Whitten, W.M.; Roubik, D.W.; Linsenmair, K.E. Fragrance collection, storage, and accumulation by individual male orchid bees. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 25(1): 157-176.
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