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African Bees Devastated by Mutant Clone Bees 33

a7244270 writes "Seems that the South African honey industry, as well as the plant life there that depends on bees for pollination, is under threat of destuction by some mutated, self cloning bees. This article in The Economist has the story."
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African Bees Devastated by Mutant Clone Bees

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  • We can always make new ones, genetic engineering works! (ya right...)
  • Two bees, or not two bees?
    That is the question.
  • I'm impressed, reality seems to beat the best scifi writers hands down!
    This is bound to be used in some series or motion picture in the near future :)
  • by NPE ( 595798 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @03:35AM (#3949893)
    ...the Cape bee clones are apparently incapable of establishing self-sustaining hives of their own...

    So these Cape bees just peacefully flit from flower to flower, eating to their little hearts' content, while the African Bees work their asses off and still end up getting annihilated. So much for the the grasshopper and the ant [].

  • by explosionhead ( 574066 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:11AM (#3949970) Homepage
    ...or the bees?
    ...or the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark they shoot bees at you?

    Well, it appears that it won't be African bees then.
  • If these mutant bees are released in the US, we won't have to worry about africanized honey bee hives, or even worse, Hollywood making more movies about africanized honey bee attacks.
  • More info (Score:5, Interesting)

    by codeButcher ( 223668 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @04:45AM (#3950039)

    I once kept bees as a hobby....

    I suppose one has to note that the "mutations" and "cloning" mentioned in the article is not human-induced. The Cape bee subspecies lived happily and successfully down in the southern part of South Africa (Cape provice). It had the Karoo, a semi-desert, as a physical barrier separating it from the African bee colonies further north.

    The problems started when some bee keepers thought that the docile Cape bee might be easier to handle and moved some hives across the Karoo.

    A bee hive is like a complex organism, where the queen bee is the reproductive center of attention and her pheromones are what makes the whole hive function.

    Because the Cape worker bee gives off pheromones very similar to the African queen bee, they are (literally) treated like queens. Thus the Africa worker bees work themselves to death in sustaining multiple "queens" in their hive, while the Cape workers are spoilt rotten and never contribute anything to the hive - until the hive dies.

    Harsh measures where taken since the 1990's to save the SA honey industry, inter alia destroying whole hives found to be infected. I'm surprised that this gets this sort of attention only now.

    The conclusion in the article is probably right: high concentrations of hives (as in commercial beekeeping) are very susceptible to infection, while single wild hives could probably ward off infection more easily. This problem will probably only peter out once most hives are destroyed and the parasites with them. This doesn't bode well for the honey industry in SA.

  • Scientists have been looking for a way to stop the spread of African honeybees in North America, because they are much more aggressive toward humans, among other things. It seems that by importing a few of these clones, they could get rid of the African bee population, while leaving the indiginous species alone. Of course, another mutation could make a clone's eggs smell like the eggs of another species...
    • I don't think this state of affairs will last long enough to be useful.

      Remember, clones can't continue forever; eventually mutations will do them in without the benefit of gene recombination from sexual reproduction. However, if they are prolific enough, there could always be a viable strain somewhere; just no telling exactly where and how many at any given time.

      The real question is, how long will the clones last? If they're hardy enough to supplant existing hives, then they might be strong enough to mutate back into something that can have sex, in which case they would be a whole new species, I suppose.

      • Although they can't combine with fresh genes to exchange genetic features, I don't think they'll have a problem maintaining their current DNA, or something just as good. The ones that are well equipped to hide in hives and reproduce are the ones that will survive--natural selection still applies.
    • Unless they mutate again and also spread in normal honey bee hives. Seems like a box of pandora to me to start spreading these things to other places...
  • What chance do those poor, peaceful, native honey bees have against these mutants?!? I mean, the admantium exoskeleton, the laser beam eyes. And one of the mutants has the strength of TWENTY normal bees. And I don't even want to get started on the bee that can control magnetic fields. Sheesh!
    • It's time to start a bee lobby in Washington and fight for these noble creatures. Let's give the bees minority status, and get them some special treatment. The cloning aristocracy must NOT keep the proleteriat bee down by exploting their resources. The time to act is NOW!
  • by DJayC ( 595440 ) on Thursday July 25, 2002 @11:33AM (#3951479)
    Between the man^H^Heat-eating fish [], the crazy centipedes [], and now the bees, it seems like we really have no idea about anything that goes on in this world. It's strange how environmental news is really playing up this whole "when species other than humans attack" even though it's "when species other than humans move somewhere they weren't previously". I wonder if the newswire of the animal world complains about humans moving around? It just goes to show how one-sided / inside the box our thinking as a race is.
    • Um... yeah... let's "put our minds in our cute little animal buddies position"

      Very well:

      There you have it.
      Though at least they don't come up with stupid /. posts like you.
      • I believe you just reiterated my point on how one-sided our thinking is.
        • Do you really believe that rodents sit around thinking about the meaning of life?

          Do they sit out in the night and gaze at the stars and wonder if they are alone in the galaxy?

          No. And do you know why? That's right. Because they are -animals-. They have yet to figure out the intricacies of the mouse trap.

          -You- may be able to take their point of view, but -they- cannot. They will never think about the migration of humans, let alone be offended about it. They might move to avoid us, but that is a pre-programmed response. It is hard-coded into their genes (They weren't made for easy upgrades).
          • This is an unfortunately typical ignorance of how sophisticated other animals are.

            All mammals - including rotents - have an emotional life identical with yours. Rodents in particular, being a highly social species, have notions of fairness and loyalty etc. much stronger than your own.

            So, no, they don't sit around contemplating human migration, but they still hurt and think it's not fair when they are forcefully displaced.

            You forget that you are an animal not much different from other mammals.

            You've been watching yoo much sci-fi TV if you think that genes and the protiens they code for can 'hard-wire' behavior.

            (The study of intelligent behavior is part of my job)

            • You said:
              "You've been watching yoo much sci-fi TV if you think that genes and the protiens they code for can 'hard-wire' behavior. "

              Um. No. What do you think instincts are? Why does a baby know to nurse? Why do animals on different continents, different situations, and different environments often exhibit the same behaviors? Cooincidence? No.

              "All mammals - including rotents - have an emotional life identical with yours. Rodents in particular, being a highly social species, have notions of fairness and loyalty etc. much stronger than your own. "

              You have a very low estimation of humankind don't you? Perhaps you've been spending a bit too much time with rats and AIs. The fact is that humans have a bad habit of putting human values onto things. You may be able to construe an event as fairness, or loyalty, but that doesn't necessarily make it so. Humans have a hard enough time understanding one another, and we can communicate with one another. Trying to figure out what another species is thinking (If they are thinking) is a much more difficult proposition.

              "You forget that you are an animal not much different from other mammals." ... that's true. I have many similarities to other mammals. However, there is one large difference. A mind capable of thinking in abstract. Capable of planning and imagination. And that, to say the least, is a -minor- difference.
      • Very well:

        Sounds good to me. Anyone else have a problem with the above?
  • Do they make Mutant Clone Coffee to devastate the Super Coffee [] made by the Killer Bees?

    No, I will not imagine a beowolf cluster of these.
  • I guess this isn't really all that surprising. It shouldn't be impossible to fix, though, with some fancy management....

  • It's obviously an attempt by the dark lord of the bees to overthrow the honey producing republic of SA. And what better way to do this then to produce a threat, Killer Bees, thereby giving cause to the need for a clone army of bees based on the perfect bounty hunter bee.
  • Imagine a

    BEEOWOLF cluster of these!!!

    Yes yes, I will beear the stings and
    arrows of outrageous punning.....

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser