Scientists Discover a Bee That Is a Combination of Male and Female

Generally speaking, animals are sexually dimorphic. You have females with large gametes and males with smaller gametes. Both are required for the sexual reproduction of species. However, every now and again, nature surprises us by producing an organism that is a combination of both sexes. In this case, we have a bee that is split right down the middle.

Bees on beeswax
Scientists Discover Gynandromorph Bee, That Is Split in the Middle

First of its Kind

Organisms with both sexes are known as gynandromorphs. This is the first Megalopta amoena to be discovered with the condition. It’s a nocturnal bee species indigenous to Central and South America.

The left side of the insect has male characteristics — it has a dainty mandible, long antenna, and a thin, fragile hind leg with few bristles. The right side is female — it features a shorter antenna, hairy and thick hind leg, and a pronounced mandible.

Megalopta amoenae
Scientists Discover Gynandromorph Bee, That Is Split in the Middle

Why Is This Bee So Important

Gynandromorphism among bees is quite common. This phenomenon has been observed in at least 140 bee species, as well as butterflies, crustaceans, and birds. Mammals, on the other hand, have never displayed gynandromorphism. At least not to our knowledge.

What makes this case different? The short answer is that gynandromorphic bees are usually discovered by scientists after they are already dead. Finding a living specimen is a stroke of luck and a rare opportunity. It allows entomologists to study its behavior and learn more about how it functions, which side is dominant, the role it plays in the hive’s social structure, and more.

Blossom flower bee
Scientists Discover Gynandromorph Bee, That Is Split in the Middle

Who Made the Discovery?

The bee was discovered by a team of researchers, led by entomologist Erin Krichilshy of Cornell University. The scientists were conducting a study on circadian rhythms at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. They were observing living bees collected from the forest of Barro Colorado Island in Panama when they noticed the odd specimen.

While one bee isn’t enough to fully comprehend gynandromorphism, it’s a significant breakthrough that will answer at least a few questions.