South African bees, from workers to queens

This video, from Clanwilliam in South Africa, is called Bees browse on pollen-laden blooms.

From New Scientist:

How to be reincarnated as a queen

* 00:01 01 April 2008

* Ewen Callaway

After a miserable life of hard labour and daily suffering – ending in death – it would be great to be reincarnated as royalty. Now we are able to reveal what to do to ensure just that outcome.

However, those looking for scientific evidence of their previous life as Cleopatra or Charlemagne might be disappointed. For successful reincarnation, first you need to make sure you are a Cape honeybee from South Africa. In these social insects, lowly female workers are sometimes reborn as pampered queens.

This is possible because the worker bee’s DNA can be reincarnated as a queen in a kind of asexual reproduction known as parthenogenesis. The scientist who has identified the phenomenon, Madeleine Beekman of the University of Sydney in Australia, calls this “genetic reincarnation”. It’s not resurrection – the insects themselves live but once.

Decline of honeybees: here.

All over the world bees have been disappearing but nowhere has been more affected than the United States: here.

2 thoughts on “South African bees, from workers to queens

  1. Mystery Die-Off Worries Beekeepers


    The Associated Press

    March 31, 2008

    The California winter has been a tough one on South Dakota beekeepers like Richard Adee.

    Last fall he sent 155 semitrailer trucks to California loaded with hives containing bees fit and ready to pollinate the almond crop.

    ‘We lost 40 percent of the hives we sent there. We sent 70,000 out and lost 28,000,’ said Adee, whose Adee Honey Farms in Bruce is considered the largest beekeeping operation in the nation.

    ‘I would say overall the losses of South Dakota bees _ from what I’ve heard _ from what they started in the spring of ’07 until they came out of the almonds is at least 50 percent. It’s not good.’

    Now, in preparation for the honey-making season in South Dakota, he’s working to get back to full strength from a mystery called colony collapse disorder.

    No one’s really sure what’s causing the disorder, evident when adult bees abandon the hive.

    It’s a concern for South Dakota beekeepers, who ranked third nationally last year for honey production and for the number of colonies.

    ‘It’s very serious,’ said Heath Bermel, a Java beekeeper and president of the South Dakota Beekeepers Association. ‘There’s a lot of beekeepers all over the U.S. who are losing hives.’

    The U.S. Agriculture Department has earmarked money and research to solving CCD because it says one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination.

    ‘As beekeepers we’re confused and the scientific community is even more confused because they feel like they should be able to figure this out and get a handle on it, and yet there are so many variables they are just having a problem,’ said Adee, chairman of the legislative committee for the American Honey Producers Association.

    Researchers with the Agricultural Research Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture are chasing various theories about CCD, said Jon Lundgren, an ARS entomologist in Brookings not directly involved in the research.

    Among the possible causes are parasites, a virus, or pesticides.

    It may be a several factors resulting from stress on the bees, he said.

    ‘Shipping these things across the country _ that’s not the way that honeybees have evolved, so we’re really changing and manipulating these colonies quite a bit to suit our needs,’ Lundgren said.

    ‘It’s necessary if we want cheap almonds and other fresh produce, but on the flip side, by the changing agricultural landscape _ both in terms of the actual landscape itself and how we approach agriculture _ there’s probably any number of factors that are ultimately involved in what we’re seeing with CCD right now.’

    Without answers and a possible remedy, the financial impact will extend beyond the beekeeping business to the dinner table, said Bermel.

    ‘It’s going to hurt everything,’ he said. ‘People at the grocery store are going to see significant increases in their grocery bill.’

    The California almond industry covers about 600,000 acres and prefers two bee colonies per acre to do a good job during a pollinating season that lasts about six weeks.


    MILWAUKEE (AP) _ State farmers are usually close to planting some oats, small grains and alfalfa in early April. But this year, winter may delay the process.

    ‘The temperatures aren’t warming up like we are used to,’ said Keith Ripp, a farmer near Lodi and president of the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board.

    Farmers normally start planting corn in late April. Last year, they harvested about 4 million acres of the corn in Wisconsin _ the most acreage in years and 350,000 acres more than a year earlier.

    Nick Schneider, a University of Wisconsin Extension agent in Winnebago County, said farmers won’t risk planting corn until the soil warms up.

    ‘It takes sufficient soil temperatures for the seeds to germinate,’ Schneider said. ‘If we get a lot of sunny days and temperatures turn around, that will speed things along.’

    Dane County, which has some of the state’s most productive farm soil, received about 100 inches of snow this winter. Snow could delay field work, but the melt will replenish underground water supplies needed by thirsty crops.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.


  2. Pingback: Red admiral and fungi | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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