Introducing Flesh-Eating Vulture Bees

By Annette J Beveridge

Editor Annette J Beveridge

There are approximately 20,000 species of bee worldwide and most will search for pollen and nectar but some bees actively seek out rotting flesh instead. Vulture bees (also known as carrion bees) form a select group of three and belong to the genus Trigona.

They live in tropical rainforests and use pheromones to signal a source of food to others. Bees respond to this signal swarming to the carcass where they can be seen covering the flesh with saliva. It may sound gruesome but it has proven of great interest to the science world since this behaviour was first discovered in 1982. These are stingless bees living primarily in South and North America.