Saturday, March 27, 2010
Evolution of worker bee gang defense
On page 112, Jerry Coyne highlights the mechanisms involved with the battle between the Asian Giant Hornets and the honeybee colonies. As their only defense, the bees are able to "quickly raise the temperature inside the ball to about 117 degrees Fahrenheit," all by "vibrating their abdomens." (112) Coyne goes on to say that this behavior is encoded "in a brain smaller than a pencil point." (113) It is obvious that the hornets evolved to acquire their aggressive behavior before the bees needed their defense against that specific action, yet the bees' maneuver is so complex and genius that even an expert in evolution would have trouble decoding the steps needed in the evolution of that behavior. "Bee" the evolution expert, and put forth what you think is the most logical series of evolutionary improvements and milestones in bee behavior that all culminates in their current defensive maneuver of creating a vibrating oven.