Ancient bee trapped in amber
Iain Stewart examines the beautiful fossil of a primitive bee in amber. The bee was trapped stuck in tree resin, which then hardened. Fossils like this date back to 100 million years ago.
Bees evolved from carnivorous wasps that had turned their backs on meat in favour of pollen and nectar. As they evolved they became perfectly adapted to collect pollen from flowers. Their whole bodies became covered in hair, so that the pollen would stick to them when they landed on flowers. They developed their special antennae to smell out nectar. Their sophisticated compound eyes – each made up of up to 6000 tiny lenses, were prefect at spotting the flowers. Many flowers have markings on them which are only visible in UV light. Humans aren’t able to see these markings but bees have a bundle of light-sensitive cells to detect UV light.