Bumblebee queens can survive underwater for up to a week, study finds

FILE-A bumblebee draws nectar from the flowers in a garden. Please note this is a file photo of a bumblebee not a bumblebee queen. (Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP via Getty Images)

A recent study shows that a species of bees can survive underwater for up to a week. 

Researchers in Canada performed an experiment using 143 eastern bumblebee queens that were weighed and placed in soil-filled tubes. 

Tap water was then added to the tubes and the bees were either maintained underwater using a plunging-type device or left to float on the water’s surface for different times while remaining in cold conditions, according to a study published in Biology Letters

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During the submersion period, the bumblebee queens were removed from water and transferred to new tubes with soil, and kept in cold storage for up to eight weeks. 

The team determined that survival for bumblebee queens remained high across all experimental groups. Approximately 81% of the bees underwater for seven days were still alive after eight weeks of artificial overwintering, the study noted. 

Researchers noted that while their report shows bumblebee queens can withstand submersion underwater for up to one week, indicating the insects can adapt to survive land flooding in the wild, more information related to long-term exposures and the effects on the bumblebee queens requires more investigation. 

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.