Bees are more than just good pollinators -- they're good recyclers, too. According to a study out of Toronto, some species of bees have taken to reusing humans' plastic waste for constructing their nests. Scott MacIvor discovered that despite an increasing amount of non-degradable materials littering our landscape, bees have managed to adapt to our wastefulness, turning our discarded resources into their own.
"Bees are often referred to as declining around human development, but its increasingly clear there are urban winners and losers," MacIvor told The Dodo in an interview. "Some species do well or better around humans than without them."
MacIvor studied the bees' building practices by setting up "trap nests" around Toronto, which allowed him to observe not only how bees constructed their brood cells, where solitary bees (like the species MacIvor studied) lay their eggs, but also how effectively plastic building materials protected the bees from other environmental threats, like parasites. He found that bees incorporated plastic in their brood designs in accordance with the natural material they would ordinarily use, such as leaves. And for the bees who collected plastic bags, MacIvor reported, "all pieces were of the same consistency and presumably from the same source."