Bats are pretty special creatures. Many people find them scary and creepy. Yet, despite having a bad reputation, these flying mammals have an important role in the ecosystem.
In addition to contributing to plant pollination, they are the most significant flying insect predators. Bats eat up to 10,000 insects per night.
This leads us to our question: do bats eat bees?
Bats usually don’t eat bees. Most bat species are nocturnal, while most bees are diurnal. Meaning these two species in nature rarely encounter. However, this doesn’t mean that bats wouldn’t eat bees if they run into them. Bats eat almost all insects, and bees wouldn’t be an exception to this.
Do bats eat bees?
Bat’s diet can vary, depending on the species and the location they live in. But in general, the majority of all 1,400 bat species feed on insects.
In fact, around 70% percent of their total diet comes from different insects. Other food sources include seeds, fruits, and pollen from flowers.
Bats and bees provide vital services to a huge number of plants. For example, in the United States, more than 75% of native plants would go extinct without the help of creatures like bats and bees.
The problem for bees is that they fall into bat’s number one favorite food source – insects.
However, the vast majority of bats rule by night. Whether they eat insects, nectar, or fruit – they exclusively hunt at night. While most bees are daytime workers – they are active in the presence of the sun.
However, nature is full of surprises and discoveries, and different species have to adapt to different lifestyles in order to avoid competition and predation.
And the progression of the technology allows scientists to dig deeper into unusual animal behaviors.
As a result, recent studies have shown that few bats and bee species have been changing their regular habits.
Related Article: Are Bats Smart?
Do bats eat carpenter bees?
Carpenter bees are known for their unique nesting. This solitary bee makes tunnel nests into plant matters such as bamboo and wood.
Most carpenter bees are completely black, and they are often mistaken for bumblebees. Yet, the difference can be spotted in the tail region. Carpenter bees have shiny black tail sections.
The majority of carpenter bee species are diurnal, except for the Indian carpenter bee.
Indian carpenter bees are truly exceptional, these species have adapted to foraging on darkest nights. Which is pretty unique for any kind of bees. They have massive photoreceptors which allow them to maximize night vision.
So in theory, Indian carpenter bees are the species that are most susceptible to bats attacks.
Do bats eat honey bees?
Native to Eurasia, these honey bees are widely known for making their nests from wax and their honey production.
Honey bees live in large hives, divided into three kinds.
The queen has a leadership role over the whole hive. Workers are female bees that have the role to forage food, protect and build the hive. Drones are males that are responsible for mating with the queen.
Most honey bees are active during the day, except for the African honeybee and the giant Asian honeybee.
These species are crepuscular, meaning they forage during the night if the moon is present in the sky.
So among all honey bee species, the African honeybee and the giant Asian honeybee are most likely to cross paths with bats. And bats may take the opportunity and eat them.
Other bee predators
When we think of animals that adore honey, we think of bears. These giants would demolish the whole hive to get this delicacy. Bears usually look for honey, and not insects.
Yet, they would sometimes eat bees and larvae inside the hive in order to get some extra protein source. Due to their size and strength, bears make severe damage to beehives.
Skunks love to eat insects. And bees are among their favorite meals. Unlike bears, skunks are directly targeting bees. Skunks would suck on the bees and spit out the pieces that they dislike.
Most of these birds are found in Africa and Asia, with a few in Europe. These birds eat different insects but mostly eat bees and wasps.
Birds would catch bees in the air and remove the stinger and venom by hitting them on the ground. However, these bee-eater birds do not attack beehives.
These insects are another big bee predator. Wasps will look for weak bee hives suitable for attacking. They would kill the bees, steal the larva and honey and use them to feed their brood.
Wasps are much larger than bees, and it takes around five bees to kill one wasp.
Bats and bees have the opposite way of life. In nature when bees are flying, bats are roosting. And vice versa. Encounters of these two species are seldom. Bats eat all kinds of insects. And they would eat bees as well, but they rarely have the chance to see them.
Yet, in contrast to bats, some bee predators can cause them serious threats. Not only that they eat few bees, but they can eat the whole beehive.