bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Killer bees on 5

I shuddered when a friend texted me that Channel 5 (the UK's lowest common demoninator terrestrial TV station) was to air Killer Bee Attack tonight. But I shouldn't have worried. Apart from gratuitous use of the word “killer”, the programme was actually quite educational. There were at least two new aspects I hadn't realised.

Africanized bees often give a warning not to get any closer. A few bees appear to patrol about 30 metres from the nest and head butt any potential intruders. They don't sting; they just bounce off the intruder's body giving notice of their presence. Come to think of it, my own bees do something similar sometimes, hovering in front of my veil having a good, but threatening look.

An Arizonan bee catcher thought that the Africanized bees in his state are less defensive than in the past. He put this down to (un)natural selection. Any bees involved in a serious bee attack are systematically destroyed. So, in effect, the most defensive genes are culled.


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