Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bee vs WASP

I found myself thinking of bees today. One friend was panicking in response to a hymenopteran bedroom invader, and another saw some Polish beekeeper anti-GMO rebellion as an example of what was wrong –by comparison- with the USA. So I began thinking of bees, and there I was.

I was picturing the dimensions of a Langstroth hive scaled to accommodate the gigantic Apis dorsata. I somehow imagined that because Ad is a almost twice the size of Apis mellifera that its behavior would be more obvious. The dances and buzzes that communicate the most efficient food source pathways to the rest of the hive became intricate entanglements of sound and movement. I could imagine the bees dancing through abstract thoughts and poetry, but this was just because of the residual these activities left in my brain; I'm sure the sexless female worker bees just chat about how best to serve dinner to their hoards of hungry maggots.

Bees achieve an enhanced communal efficiency not by supporting the efforts of each individual until the average activity enjoys a higher rate of successes, but by suffering the incompetence of so many of their number through the accidental successes of a few. A worker bee can only live around twelve weeks, but over half of them will live less than half that span. The enormous die-off is hidden behind the phenomenal fertility of their queen. Could the bees survive if they were cognizant of the mortality constantly eliminating more of their identical twins than they could ever possibly have the opportunity to meet?

What would the Langstroth-organized buzzing of A dorsata tell us. Would they pine for the grayanotoxin-festooned wild hives of Nepal? Would they divulge the secrets to a happy short life despite the presence of so many depressive triggers? Would they spawn buzz-cults who would mimic their songs till oral paresthesia left them drooling through slurred platitudes?

The most successful flying hymenoptera are the parasitic wasps. Because of solitary periods in their life they must effectively carry out critical tasks or die. Some of my favorite parasitic wasps are the tarantula hawks of the genus Pepsis. Even larger than A. dorsata the Pepsis wasps speak directly to the human psyche with their buzzing. They say: “I carry pain – give me room!”. I have a Pepsis wasp mounted on ornately decorated mat-board sitting on one of the shelves in my living room.

Pepsis under glass

Sometimes called solitary wasps the Pepsis meet at prearranged bushes for orgies of reproductive element exchange. It was at such a bush that I bagged the specimen mounted in the photo. The bush was alive with the crawling and buzzing jet black wasps. I know quite a few people who would have –if the skittering forms were spiders- fainted at the sight.

Once they mate the female Pepsis wasps fly off to find one of the most arachnophobia-inspiring of the spiders: the tarantula. The tarantula with its barbed hairs, spinnerets and poison fangs is just breakfast for the Pepsis maggots.

They are fairly bad-ass those Pepsis wasps.


Christine Eubanks said...

"One friend was panicking in response to a hymenopteran bedroom invader, and another saw some Polish beekeeper anti-GMO rebellion as an example of what was wrong –by comparison- with the USA".

Yes, even me, i'm an anti-GMO. I don't like the dangers in it so that's why i am in favor in labeling GMO and organic.

adult onset atheist said...

One of the most popular GMO crops is the roundup-resistant soybean. The idea is that one sprays a weed killer (roundup) directly on the crop and it kills the weeds that compete with it. What happens in the field is that some weeds quickly become somewhat roundup resistant, and larger amounts of roundup are needed. The larger amounts inhibit the growth of the soybeans, and the crop yields end up being about the same as non-GMO soybean. The major difference being that the GMO soybean is now a product that has been exposed to huge quantities of roundup. There are very good reasons to believe that roundup consumption is bad for people.

But what happens when the GMO soybean is grown organically without roundup? Turns out it is the same as non-GMO organic soybeans. By targeting GMO soybeans we miss the threat to our health that GMO crops present..

Anonymous said...

Destroy all the bees.

Liz said...

Sorry, I botched a previous attempt at this:

Also to be remembered is the unhealthy connection between the company that manufactures that herbicide and owns the patent on the re-engineered soybean, their irresponsibility re the airborne pollination method of soybeans (such that neighboring fields are pollinated by each other to the commingling of patented and non-patented strains regardless of the wishes or planting practices of farmers who may choose to grow non-GMO crops), and their abuses of law and the courts (at least in the US) to 1) lay claims against neighbors who did not originally plant their royalty-ridden crops but whose fields show (without proper search authorization-collected sampling, in many, many cases) "contamination" with GMO strains, 2) obstruct (via levied fines and forced royalties) the ability of farmers to engage in the basic agricultural practice of recovering seed for the next season from their own crops (regardless of actual presence of their patented varieties) via attacks on both farmers and on the owners of seed-separation machines, and 3) force farmers to grow only their product (using the above methods and others, and through donational distortions of the ongoing legal framework and corruption of lawmakers and safety-inspection regimes responsible for determining the actual effects of such crops before allowing their free introduction to the world) so as to ensure their continued royalties as well as to prevent open criticism in widely-effective channels (it's actually illegal in many soybean-farming counties, for example, to criticize that company or its products; yes, illegal in America to criticize...)

Forget the bees. Destroy all the chemical company executives... >.>

adult onset atheist said...

I may be mistaken, but I think Monsanto began the damaging IP campaign before they introduced GMO crops. I’m sure they are redoubling their efforts with the GMO crops, but I believe they established the IP law precedents on their selective breading strains. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie “Food Inc.”, but if you haven’t it contains an engaging treatment of the subject.