won't the Africanized bees just evolve to survive the harsher
place a tag on the queen to find her easily in the hive.
a big unknown. They could evolve to swarm less and store more
honey. Well, that's pretty close to a European bee. That's
regular old natural selection. But let's not forget about
artificial selection. We don't have to be passive bystanders.
old Mendelian genetics would probably be the easiest way.
There's a wise old beekeeper around here who's decided to
devote himself to breeding nice bees that do well living in
the desert. With artificial selection, Mendelian genetics,
good record keeping and a good brain, he's breeding European
bees that are tolerant to bee mites, parasites that kill entire
colonies. These parasites are the biggest pests to bees worldwide
doing this right in the middle of the Africanized bee territory,
so they are interbreeding with his bees. Over time, his bees
are getting progressively testy. But the bottom line is they
are still manageable, still disease and mite tolerant and
still making lots of honey. Basically, what we want are bees
that are enough below the threshold of testiness that we can
artificial selection solve the killer bee problem entirely?
In the early 1800's, the European bees weren't much nicer
than today's Africanized bees. In the 1850's, a beekeeper
invented the movable white box type of hive that let you open
the hive, take it apart and find the queen. That gave beekeepers
the ability to select for the traits they wanted. Through
artificial selection, we went from nasty to nice decent bees
within a half-century. So this has a precedent, and not just
in bees but in every other domesticated animal.
day, aggressiveness may be artificially bred from the
One problem is that bees are now extremely important to agriculture
for pollination. We move them around like everything else.
As of now, if we get Africanized bees we won't know if the
bees we will be sending around are in fact suitable for shipping,
safe for workers to handle, safe to release near highways
etc. The biggest problem will be human problems. Those issues
will be much harder to resolve than the biological ones.
- - - - - - - - - - -
pages: | 1 | 2
| 3 | 4 |
Justin O. Schmidt