If you haven’t read Chump Crickets part 1 from last week yet that would be a good place to start. For the rest of ya here IS WHY I AM SO EXCITED about these crickets! This is promising news for people keeping treatment-free bees if they can stay the course, be patient, and allow bees and mother nature to do their work..
If this form of resistance just happened once I might be inclined to think that it was a fluke and bees couldn’t be as adaptive and resilient as a single lucky population of crickets with a single mutation. BUT IT is WAY BETTER THAN THAT!!! The first time that this was documented was in 2006. The article from couple of months ago was NEW and reported that mute crickets had been found on yet ANOTHER Hawaiian Island 100km away from the first. Both populations of crickets have reportedly developed MUTE males THROUGH TOTALLY DIFFERENT mutations resulting in mute male crickets….. to combat the same parasite via a different mechanism…. This is an amazing example of convergent evolution. This is the main difference between humans and nature. We look for “A” cure for things while nature continues to explore for any and all methods of survival.
How about a mammalian example… This time introduced parasitism isn’t causing the selection. It’s humans with guns. When a poachers target elephants that have ivory tusks a selective pressure is being applied. See BBC News Africa – Elephants ditch tusks to survive. Turns out that elephants lacking tusks DON’T GET POACHED as often. So elephants withOUT tusks are more likely to get together resulting in TUSKLESS progeny. A change in selective pressure is CHANGING the elephants in these African parks to an elephant with no tusks. Researchers claim that female elephants prefer males with tusks… but if there aren’t any tusked bulls around…. In 1930 – 1% of elephants in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda were tuskless. In 1998 the same park reported 15% females and 9% of males were tuskless. In Zambia’s North Luangwa National Park researchers reported that in 1997 38% of elephants in the park HAD NO TUSKS. Other researchers reported that in unstressed populations of elephants only 2% of animals are tusk-less.
Bees, like crickets and elephants are a lot more resilient as a species than people give them credit for. The ones that can live with varroa mites and all the other obstacles of today as a new part the equation survive through whatever novel means THEY have developed. Part of the equation that must be calculated is that colonies in any operation will fail from time to time. The ones that cannot deal with the pressure, DIE removing them from the breeding population. Only the bees suited to live on this planet now persist, not the biggest, strongest, fittest, of a certain color, temperament or brood pattern. We may not have the ability to even perceive the adaptation(s) that translates to survival initially. So What if anything besides overwintering should be our prime selection tool?
We need to be looking toward the future attempting to PREVENT and prepare for other man-made mishaps in beekeeping by breeding resilient stock now. Instead of telling people to test for mites and treat based on how many they find, what if we test for mites and report on colonies that are thriving despite mite loads, beetles, or other perceived malady vs. the ones that die! By treating we change things in UNIMAGINABLE ways within that hive altering selective pressures which result in outcomes we cannot predict. See Post on Russian Fox Experiment
So what say you beekeepers?
What is your plan?
Do Bees need “saving”?
Can you put faith in the natural order that has shaped all that is around us to fix this?
What say you “Scientists”?
Are Scientist exploring all solutions to these problems or only with MARKETABLE ones?
If these solution could be free to beekeepers and bees would Scientists be shouting it from the rooftops?
(I would like to hope so….)