Encore - Bee in Amber

April 25, 2020

Bee in amber tube

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Today and every Saturday Earth Science Picture of the Day invites you to rediscover favorites from the past. Saturday posts feature an EPOD that was chosen by viewers like you in our monthly Viewers' Choice polls. Join us as we look back at these intriguing and captivating images.

Photographer: Mila Zinkova
Summary AuthorMila Zinkova

July 2014 Viewer's ChoiceSome call amber a time machine. The piece of amber above certainly fits this description. Eons ago, a tree that produced resin entrapped a small stingless bee that flew close to the golden liquid. But this wasn't an accident. The bee didn't try to avoid the resin, just the opposite, it tried to collect it to use in its nest -- for both protection and disinfection of the nest. If you look very closely, you can detect tiny round balls of resin attached to the bee's legs. Collecting resin was a dangerous task. This hapless bee got caught in the very resin it was collecting.

Later, when an even bigger resin flow engulfed the older resin with the bee inside it, the resin with the bee has become a resin tube located inside a larger flow of resin. This new flow was oozing for some time, creating layers that can be clearly seen. Such resin is called resin stalactite.  Eventually, the entire resin mass fell to the ground and sometime in the next few millions of years became fossilized -- the resin became amber. So what these photos show is amber (amber spheres collected by the bee) inside amber (amber tube) inside amber (amber stalactite).

Photo Details: Camera: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS; Focal Length: 4.3mm; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0031 s (1/320); ISO equiv: 100.