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back to article Job-hunting honeybees rely on 'meth' to find work

Honeybees have no choice about what career they'd like: their destiny is hardwired into their genes - much like Fry in Futurama, who wakes up from cryogenic storage to be assigned a job based on his capabilities. Bees The hapless honeybee only has two possible professions. It can go forth and forage - a varied work life that …

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ehh?

Is this story "in not less than 500 words talk about the new word they have given to the chemical that gives bees their jobs"

Because I am sure theres nothing else here thats new to me.

You managed to put togethor a whole post on the tenious link between it and "Meths"?

Thats 1 min 34 seconds of my life im not getting back.

2 mins including the comment.......

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Facepalm

As opposed to UK teenagers...

...who use 'meh' to find work.

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Anonymous Coward

DNA Methylation

DNA Methylation - the genome's #ifdef statement.

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Headmaster

worker bees not identical sisters

"The whole hive of honeybees are genetically identical sisters..."

I believe this is not actually true.

Worker bees (and the queen) are diploids, meaning that they have two sets of chromosomes. But - the way the workers are generated involves a haploid (single set of chromosomes) egg being fertilised by a haploid sperm.

Chromosomes are allocated at random to eggs, and generally there's at least one cross-over involved between each pair.

Therefore the worker-bees are presumably not genetically identical.

(The same assortment process also occurs in spermatozoa in many species, but not honey bees; drone (male) bees are haploid so all sperm must carry the same set.)

HTH.

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Bronze badge

Re: worker bees not identical sisters

You are correct, plus a bit more.

Drones (as someone notes below) are haploid and male, workers and the queen are all diploid and female. They are not identical clones because firstly of meiosis which mixes things up, and secondly on a mating flight a queen tends to be very promiscuous and mate with six or so drones in an afternoon. Which must be quite tiring for her, not quite as bad as for the drones whose knackers explode at the climax of the act.

So with the semen of six drones in her the workers are half-sisters sharing six different fathers.

In a further mind-bending thought, when you think it through a drone has no father and cannot have any sons. He has a grandfather and can have grandchildren.

As that great philosopher Winnie The Pooh said "You never can tell with bees."

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"Manchurian candidate"

"meth" ha-ha. Not science but, hey, any drug reference in a storm.

I bet the intelligence agencies are digging up their old "Manchurian Candidate" files to see if epigenetic DNA could be used to program human behavior.

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Mushroom

I saw 'meth'

and was expecting a bee version of Breaking Bad - I'm now left thoroughly disappointed!

Icon is of course a meth lab exploding like at the end of season four.

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Anonymous Coward

All workers do all the jobs

Worker bees don't specialise in a particular job, it depends on their age. Young bees stay in the hive feeding grubs and attending the queen, older bees become sentries and guard the hive. The oldest bees forage for nectar, and die a couple of weeks after starting. A worker bee lives for about 6 weeks. If the queen dies, worker bees are able to adapt to lay eggs to keep the hive population up and hopefully create a new queen...

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Re: All workers do all the jobs

Worker bees can lay eggs, however they do not do so to keep the colony numbers up, nor can they possibly create a new queen. Since workers are unfertilised, they can only lay haploid eggs, hence they can only produce drones. These are also normally stunted (due to being laid in worker size cells), and drone laying workers are a sign that a colony is screwed, since they normally will not even accept a new queen at that stage. Its best to toss the whole lot out and restart.

The article is interesting, because it explains the mechanism behind the fact that workers can do different jobs at different stages, and also go back to doing an early life-cycle job, like nursing, later on, if the colony needs it.

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Thumb Down

Arizona State University?

Did they take into account that the bees were likely Africanized Honey Bees, not the North American variety? Of course they didn't. Now I know why there are so many bees in Tempe. These idiots. File under who cares.

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Re: Arizona State University?

What you are calling the North American variety is actually the european variety. Honey bees are not native to the american continent, and were all imported. African honey bees were also imported, and are a separate strain, but the same species, which means they can crossbreed, and together they have created a bastard strain of the two races, which are known as africanized bees, which have unpleasant characteristics.

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Re: Arizona State University?

unpleasant is an understatement.

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"Honey bees are not native to the american continent, and were all imported."

I didn't know that. And it has interested me enough to go and find out what (apart from the wind) filled the niche of top pollinator in the Americas prior to their introduction. Cheers for that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Honey bees are not native to the american continent, and were all imported."

The Indians called the European honeybee 'the white man's fly'. Prior to the introduction of the white man's fly, pollination was performed by insects that specialized in pollinating specific plants. They were not promiscuous pollinators, the little devils.

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