I'm creating a cold-climate fantasy world and would like to replace all (or most) inspects with bats. Bats would come as small as bees, all the way up to ride-able size. Big ones eat smaller ones, etc.

Fantasy world, so it doesn't have to make 100% sense, but I'd like the concepts and interactions to be grounded in science. How would bats serve as pollinators, could they produce honey?

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    $\begingroup$ They....they already do that. Also if most pollinating bats in your world are nocturnal, it will probably also have a lot of plant species with white flowers, strong smell and lots of nectar blooming at night. $\endgroup$ Sep 20 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ How close do you need to get to honey? I'm wondering about a sap-sucking bat that leaves punctures in trees, and is therefore associated with maple syrup or birch syrup. $\endgroup$
    – Chris H
    Sep 21 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @ Chris H. I like it. I'm now thinking about a bat species that could drill for tree sap, and people come behind to harvest. Maybe a pine bat. Eats pine sap, special enzymes or bacteria in its mouth interact with the sap and make it edible for humans. Trees that have been harvested by the Pine Bat now produce human-edible pine nectar. Humans would therefore domesticate said bats. $\endgroup$
    – Longbear
    Sep 22 at 19:39

Being pollinator and producing honey are two independent features.

Bats are already pollinators in real world

Bats are very important pollinators in tropical and desert climates. Most flower-visiting bats are found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

Two species of nectar-feeding bats, the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat, migrate north a thousand miles or more every spring from Mexico into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Producing honey instead is done by certain insects to feed their little ones, and it is done by eating and then regurgitating the nectar produced by the flowers.

Since bats are mammals they would feed their young ones with milk and then they would proceed directly to eat their main food, so producing honey for a mammal has little sense. Also producing honey as energy storage for harsh times has little sense, since fat tissues are better suited for this and follow the bearer more conveniently.

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    $\begingroup$ "fat tissues are better suited for this" - what if the bearer wanted to leave its stores temporarily behind? I do imagine a whole winter's worth of fat would make it difficult for the bat to fly. $\endgroup$ Sep 20 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnDvorak fat is one of the best ways to store energy precisely because it's very energy-dense for its size and weight. Also unlike external sources of energy someone can't steal your fat without killing you first, at which point you don't need it anymore (also bats are better fliers than birds. While their skeletal structure and respiratory system do limit their max size, their wings are much more efficient and allow them to have more lift. See how many mother bats can easily fly with their cubs still clinging to them, even some mothers that have more than one baby at once). $\endgroup$ Sep 20 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ I pretty much agree here, although if you had some kind of bat community akin to a bee hive (naked mole rat?) that gathered and processed food for other members, it might take the form of partly digested regurgitated foodstuffs. I doubt it would be as nice as honey, but it could have preservative properties (and would likely resemble cheese). $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Sep 20 at 23:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Discretelizard check out Honey Ants. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Sep 21 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidR Oh wow. Thanks. Also, today in Ant Facts: TIL "Gamergate" is a type of ant. $\endgroup$ Sep 21 at 20:40

Naked Mole Bats:

No, that's not a typo. If your bats engaged in sophisticated eusocial activities, like naked mole rats, then it's possible for them to produce a partly digested, regurgitated foodstuff that might have antibacterial enzymes, or have bacteria contained that culture the foodstuff. Naked mole rats produce fatty acids from otherwise indigestible cellulose in their guts using symbiotic bacteria, and I could see bats feeding on various foodstuffs, vomiting it into a communal collection (with the symbiotic bacteria) and letting the whole thing ferment like cheese analogs to convert cellulose into some kind of more digestible form (fats or proteins) that would then be used to feed the young and queen.

ProjectApex and L Dutch are both right that bats are all ready involved with pollination, so this is a perfectly sensible extension of bat behavior. But I doubt that if your pollinator bats were drinking nectar that THAT would be the source of "honey." In fact, the honey-analog would most likely resemble a soft cheese like feta. At most, they might regurgitate nectar to stimulate bacterial growth. Sorry, sweet is unlikely.


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