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View Diary: 37 million bees died in Ontario. Do you want to guess how? (149 comments)

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  •  I'm not an expert in evolution... (1+ / 0-)
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    LilithGardener

    If you, in fact, are an expert, I won't argue with you, although it seems to me if a species has been around 50 million years, it is pretty damned efficient. I'll let an evolutionary scientist debate with you or not, on that.

    My point essentially is that I assume there are reasons for the traits that species express. If I'm wrong about that, maybe the person I'm arguing with is correct: Drones are terrible creatures and should be, um, outlawed or something (kidding...).

    Although I stand by the point about bee genetics being suppressed by the beekeeping industry, in an era when we are desperately trying to find bees which have resistance to all the pathogens affecting bees nowadays, which is a discussion amongst beekeepers and queen breeders as of late.

    Survivor colonies are being used to create new strains, and this is probably the best hope for bees are facing.

    "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

    by ZhenRen on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 06:50:21 PM PDT

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    •  Oh, I'm sure we agree on more than this (1+ / 0-)
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      ZhenRen
      My point essentially is that I assume there are reasons for the traits that species express.
      I accept your beekeeping expertise. It is interesting that a typical drone component is 30% when they build their own combs. I'll agree with you that it's the reserve that has coincided with the currently successful species.

      I did not know that the size of the honey combs matters! If I understand your comment, ou've pointed out attempts to bias hives toward more and larger worker bees, and fewer drones, has introduced an advantage for bee mites! What an excellent example of ecosystem design; if smaller bees really are less susceptible to bee mite infestation, and larger comb cells introduce a vulnerability, than the trade off has to give some real advantage. Why not smaller drones? Perhaps larger drones survive occasional periods of little or no honey. Perhaps under even different conditions drones disburse in search of starving Queens.

      But back to efficiency. Effectiveness is not the same as efficiency. Old ideas about biological efficiency derive from the principle of conservation of energy. The idea that biological precision costs energy comes in part from DNA, to achieve high accuracy on copying, we actually have proof readers, and copy editors that fix the vast majority of the mistakes. That takes a lot of energy.

      Then we have proteins that are made from RNA (which is copied from DNA), and proteins will fold into a characteristic shape that gives rise to its function. It turns out that proteins never fold correctly, and are chewed up into small pieces. Originally, that was thought to be a waste, but then it was discovered that some of those small pieces are used in the immune system to display "self" information on the surface of the cell, but another large percentage just get totally degraded.

      So all that means, that our cells aren't very efficient at all; they spend a lot of energy copying DNA to make RNA, to make protein that is not needed.  A rather large reservoir of excess chemical material is necessary to achieve a viable cell. It's not yet known what all that reserve might be good for, just that under current conditions, it doesn't appear to be necessary.

      And systems on earth don't necessarily need to be efficient, because earth systems are driven by the sun's energy.

      ef·fi·cien·cy
      noun i-ˈfi-shən-sē\
      plural ef·fi·cien·cies
      Definition of EFFICIENCY
      1
      : the quality or degree of being efficient
      2
      a : efficient operation
      b (1) : effective operation as measured by a comparison of production with cost (as in energy, time, and money) (2) : the ratio of the useful energy delivered by a dynamic system to the energy supplied to it
      3
      : efficiency apartment
      See efficiency defined for English-language learners »
      See efficiency defined for kids »
      Examples of EFFICIENCY

          Because of her efficiency, we got all the work done in a few hours.
          The factory was operating at peak efficiency.
          A furnace with 80 percent fuel efficiency wastes 20 percent of its fuel.
          The company is trying to lower costs and improve efficiencies.

      "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

      by LilithGardener on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 07:42:42 PM PDT

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      •  Oops - my proof reader needs upgrading (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen

        It turns out that [ a large fraction of ] proteins never fold correctly...

        "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

        by LilithGardener on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 07:45:58 PM PDT

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      •  Thanks, and let me clarify (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LilithGardener

        Mites prefer to lay eggs in larger cells (the hexagonal cells that bees raise brood in), so mites prefer the larger drone cells by a factor of something like 10 to 1.  Worker bee cells are smaller. This is visibly obvious when one inspects the comb.

        So beekeepers will use drone comb as a mite trap, placing the comb in for a month, letting bees raise drone brood, which attracts the mites. The the brood is removed before the mites emerge as adults. Beekeepers have always suppressed drone populations and this is yet another even more severe form of this practice.

        Another practice is the commercial beeswax foundation is deliberately made a little larger for worker bees (but still smaller than drone cells) than natural comb, with the theory that it will produce bigger worker bees, and thus more honey. But this practice also makes the cells more attractive to varroa mites.

        So many beekeepers, myself included, are moving away from this practice and allowing bees to build natural comb without using foundation, so that bees can return to normal size, to reduce mite populations (which are a serious threat). Another way to achieve this is by using the small cell foundation that is now available (and your idea of small drones is intriguing!).  But the downside to this is bees also will build more drone comb, when left to their own proclivities, in fact much more than they would when kept to commercial foundation. In my hives I'm seeing lots of drones... so that is a concern.

        But on the other hand, many beekeepers worry about reducing drone populations because the long term solution to mites is raising a more hygienic bee (bees will detect cells with mites within them, and clean the pupae out of the cells, eliminating the mites along with them. This is based on current research).

        So, on one hand drones invite more mites, but on the other hand we need drones to spread around the new traits we're encouraging (through queen breeders selecting for better traits).

        Another problem with commercial wax foundation is the accumulation of toxins in the wax from drugs given to bees by beekeepers, which is adding to the toxic overload in the hive. In short, many of these interventions are coming back around to bite the bees, rather than help them, so many of us are going back to basics, letting bees be bees, trying to help by selecting for survivor traits, while pushing the FDA to ban the pesticides which adversely affect bee immunity and a host of other adverse affects.

        Bees are under severe stress. 50% of my hives dies last winter.

        I hope this clears things up for people reading here.

        And thanks for the explanation you gave about genetics.

        "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

        by ZhenRen on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 09:19:43 PM PDT

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        •  That's all very interesting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZhenRen

          - thank you for the detailed lesson.

          "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

          by LilithGardener on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 06:54:20 AM PDT

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