TCA (my initials)

May 29, 2007

sneaky bees

Filed under: Doodling — TCA @ 7:32 pm

Where have all the bees gone? A “strange new plague is wiping out our honey bees one hive at a time. It has been named Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD… Among the possible culprits behind CCD are: a fungus, a virus, a bacterium, a pesticide (or combination of pesticides), GMO crops bearing pesticide genes, erratic weather, or even cell phone radiation.”

There are numerous other theories. Here’s a recent one. “While small hive beetles are common in Africa and pose little threat to African honeybee hives, it appears that domesticated European honeybees have a much harder time containing the beetles in their hives.”

The New York Times issued an ominous report last month. Researchers “have found some fungi in the affected bees that are found in humans whose immune systems have been suppressed by the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or cancer.”

Alison Chalmers, an eco-toxicologist for Bayer CropScience, denied that Bayer’s pesticide sold under the brand name Gaucho was solely responsible for “Mad Bee Disease” in France ten years ago. However, Gaucho belongs to a class of pesticide that’s a prime suspect in the ongoing Collapsing Colonies Disorder mystery.

I have a theory of my own. Namely, that Africanized bees are sneaking their queens into beekeeper’s hives. For the first generation thereafter, the hybrid bees remain docile–but they revert to being Africanized in the second generation–at which point they get paranoid and split. This modus operandi could enable hybrid bees to spread throughout the cooler climes of the continental U.S. and Europe.

Wikipedia says that “in a partially Africanized hive these aggressive bees can even ‘recruit’ more gentle bees in attacks upon intruders. If true, this habit can make Africanized bees dangerous in areas where European bees are kept for agricultural purposes, since an existing queen may be replaced without the usual out-swarming or supersession, conditions more readily observable by the beekeeper. To the extent that the Africanized bees make pollination management more difficult, they are a threat to the production of all crops which require bee pollination.”

The African Queen. Ouch. That stings.

Maybe beekeepers should mark their purebred queens? Just put a little dot of bright nontoxic paint on ’em?

“In Mexico, where Africanized bees are well established, pollination beekeepers have found that a purchased and pre-bred non-Africanized queen may be used to locally create a first generation of virgin queens that are then bred in an uncontrolled fashion with the local wild Africanized drones. These first generation Africanized queens produce worker bees that are manageable, not exhibiting the intense and massive defense reactions of subseqent generations. This offers a relatively economical method of safe local beekeeping conditions that would otherwise quickly lead to hazardous conditions.”

Africanized bees will just love the Greenhouse Effect. They’ll feel right at home in Northern Europe and North America.

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