A friend has some stag hides in lime-water solution. He noticed the stag hides were covered in bees of several different species. He also noticed that the nearby sheep hides in a similar bath have no bees. What attracts the bees to the stag hides? Alternatively, what repels them from the sheep?

There are a lot more bees when the sun shines. The bees principle seemed interested in the hairy side of the hides. There is a small stream and a dried up pond nearby, so probably other places if they just wanted a drink. There is no noticeable scum on the water of either container.

Photos of the stag hides:

i1 i2

Photo of the sheep hides:



1 Answer 1


Short answer: They are probably looking for minerals from the lime

Explanation: Insects from time to time need minerals (salt) they can't get from there floral diet. Because they can't chew these directly of rocks, they suck these up from puddles or occasionally from human sweat. This behaviour is well known from butterflies, but also from honeybees

Notice BTW that there are indeed several bee species (Probably Apis mellifera, Bombus terrestris agg. and Bombus lapidarius), but also several flies including Eristalis cf. tenax, a hoverfly.

Why not from the sheep hides? I'm not sure, but the water around the sheep hides looks awfully brown, suggesting there are a lot of humic acids un the water. That might be less attractive to the insects.

  • $\begingroup$ So a combination of attracted to both and repelled from the sheep. I shared this post and answer with my friend and he is pleased with the answer and will be letting the other people he was discussing with know. $\endgroup$ May 13, 2019 at 13:18

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