Bees and flowers have long been intertwined by pollination, as bees aid flowers in the task of sexual reproduction. But a very special group of bees in Turkey take their work home with them, making beautiful nests out of flowers.
Two separate teams working in the Middle East recently discovered Osmia avoseta, which is unique among the some twenty thousand different species of bees in that it uses flower petals to make its nests. It's not actually the nest-building part that's unusual - only about a quarter of all bees actually live in the vast communal hives that most people associate with the insects. Although nests are actually the norm for bees, it's the way in which Osmia avoseta builds its home that sets it apart.
The nests, which are built to essentially serve as incubators for bee larvae, are triple-layered to provide additional warmth. Built by the females of the species, it takes about two days to bite off the necessary flower petals and bring them back to to the construction site. The bee glues together the petals with nectar and then adds inner layers of mud and additional petals to protect the growing cocoon.
Once the nest is ready, the bee lays her egg and seals up the nest, leaving nectar and pollen inside as food for the larva. The bees typically build about a dozen nests in close proximity to each other, each housing a single larvae. It's currently unknown whether the newly hatched larva immediately leaves the nest, or whether they spend the winter there before emerging. I don't claim to know either way, but if my house was as beautiful as one of these nests, I don't think I'd ever bother leaving.