Friday, November 30, 2007

What’s The Buzz?

It turns out worker bees might not be as cooperative as once thought. Researchers have caught sneaking their own eggs into the queen’s chamber to be raised as royalty. A study done on South African Cape honey bees shows that intruders invade other honey bee colonies by wearing a "queen perfume" to smell like the colonies resident queen. This allows them to travel through without being attacked and to lay their own eggs in the chamber of the queen. In the study 23 out of 39 colonies had offspring of workers and not of the resident queen. Eight of those colonies were from the resident workers of their own colony and not that of invaders.
This is some competing evidence to relatives trying to protect relatives because they share DNA. In colonies most of the workers are females that were produced from unfertilized egg making them exact clones of their mother. There would be less need for those eight workers in the study to compete among their own colony because they have essentially the same genetic make up as the queen and would only pass on their genes, which are the same as the queens. Invading honey bees however have a lot to gain by laying their eggs in other colonies because it increases their reproductive fitness. These eggs with new genetic information have the potential to wipe out the original colonies own genetic line. The only way their larvae become queen is if they are put into the queens chamber and fed quality food like the highly nutritious royal jelly.
This shows that most individuals of the original colony care for the long-term prosperity of the colony and work to care for related offspring. There are self-ish individuals in the colony that are looking out for themselves over the colony, and if their genes get passed on and their young survive we might see more selfish individuals in colonies that would hinder the cooperation of all individuals. There may end up being several queens, or like the wasps, honey bees could become solitary parasitic insects...but that would be a long down the evolutionary ladder. As for intruder honey bees they don’t care at all for the colony they invade. Their offspring may carry a gene for this invading behavior and that too down the line could affect how colonies operate. Hives may have to become more defensive to protect the colonies prosperity and the genetic make up.
By Jessica Johnson (10)


At 4:23 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I think it's great when people post about topics we've recently covered in class, it makes the blog assignment much more relevant and worthwhile. However, I did have some trouble understanding the content of this blog. A slight lack of lucidity, especially in the first paragraph, negatively affected my ability to comprehend the research being discussed.

Bees are fascinating animals whose presence and function in our lives should not be overlooked. Thank you for sharing this research!



Post a Comment

<< Home