In a Surprise, Honeybee Tongue Hairs Found to Repel Water; Property Aids Flexibility and Durability of Tongue, Could Guide Design of New Materials Such As Flexible Microstructured Fiber Systems to Capture and Transport Viscous Liquids

A honeybee pokes out its tongue--which is densely covered in hairs--to lap up nectar and other liquids. Now, researchers report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces that those hairs are water-repellent. That’s unexpected, because most liquid-capturing organs in nature are hydrophilic, or water loving. But the honeybee hairs’ hydrophobic nature makes the tongue more flexible, which is useful when foraging from sources with differing shapes. The findings could help researchers design new materials. The article was published online on March 8, 2022, and is titled “Enhanced Flexibility of the Segmented Honey Bee Tongue with Hydrophobic Tongue Hairs.”
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