Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Evolution of bees in Puerto Rico

Image result for puerto rican killer bees

Many wonder as to why the Puerto Rican honey bee are more of a gentile species compared to their ancestors the African honey bees.  African honey bees were once bred in the 1950s with a European bee.  This made the offspring have very aggressive personality giving them the name “killer bees”, and these bees escaped the laboratory from where they were bred.  These bees were bred to get both good genes to mix into one species, but what they got was an aggressive species, that would be able to survive well in a tropical environment.  The new African honey bees arrived in Puerto Rico in the 1990s, the odd thing is that they did not keep their aggressive personality.  The bees have evolved into a gentle species.  Researchers noticing this took 30 genomes of the gentile Puerto Rican bees, 30 Africanized bees, and 30 European honey bees.  Puerto Rican bee’s genomes had more similarities to those of the Africanized bees, but still retained the European DNA in certain areas.  The DNA of the European or African bee would be more prominent in Puerto Rican bee based on the environment the Puerto Rican bee lived in.  Evolution caused these bees to stay gentile because the more aggressive bees were killed throughout years depleting the population. 

This study is hoping to help bee keepers.  They now can see the difference between the gentle African honey bees compared to the European bees.  These European bees also have less genetic diversity than the African honey bee.  Therefore, European bees are more open to diseases, and have had a rapid decline since the year 2005.  The Puerto Rican Africanized bee grooms itself better than the European, playing a role on why they are better at fighting off viruses.  They will groom any mites off themselves that can potentially cause harm.  All this can help beekeepers in deciding what bees to use.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very beneficial finding, especially now, as we experience dwindling populations of the honeybee. A honeybee that is productive, more immune to disease, and most importantly non-aggressive. It could be the ideal honeybee.