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  1. 26 Aug '09 20:40
    I'm going to post this in spirituality as the idea may be worth exploring there also.

    Thoughts?
  2. 26 Aug '09 20:42
    Probably because it is more damaging that way. The life of an individual bee is fairly insignificant to a colony.
  3. 26 Aug '09 21:58
    Bee's have barbed stings so when they sting you they can't retract it. When they try to fly off the sting is pulled out along with most of the bee's gut. It dies.

    How has this defensive weapon been evolved by this creature as a competitve advantage when it dies if it uses it?
  4. 27 Aug '09 01:32
    Originally posted by divegeester
    Bee's have barbed stings so when they sting you they can't retract it. When they try to fly off the sting is pulled out along with most of the bee's gut. It dies.

    How has this defensive weapon been evolved by this creature as a competitve advantage when it dies if it uses it?
    Don't think of evolution as developing competitive advantages for individuals - rather think of competitive advantages for genes. While one bee dies, the genes are transferred through the hive.
    The bee that dies will be a worker - these are sterile anyway so have no ability to transfer their genes.
    It's purely a warning mechanism for the hive - one bee dies, but the others are warned by the chemicals which come out with the stinger.
  5. 27 Aug '09 02:41
    Originally posted by divegeester
    I'm going to post this in spirituality as the idea may be worth exploring there also.

    Thoughts?
    Seems like if evolution is the cause, then why would it have gone that route? Why not just evolve more potent venom or more of it with a more robust pumping apparatus? Maybe the barbed stinger makes sure some kind of pheromones stay with the sting victim in order to entice further attack? Wasps seem to get by fine without barbed stingers so evolution doesn't seem to make sense. It might have been an accidental gene mutation.
  6. 27 Aug '09 05:19 / 1 edit
    Because the bees most likely to sting you are not the ones reproducing anyway. ALL the eggs are laid by the Queen, and fertilized by a Drone. Bees you see out and about that sting you are 99.99% of the time Workers, they can't reproduce anyway, but the Queen is more likely to survive if her workers do more damage. So the Queen's genes that lead to stingers are really there for the genetic success of the Queen (and thus the colony), and, harsh as it is, the lives of the Workers are insignificant.

    The Bee Hive is Not a Democracy.
  7. 27 Aug '09 05:26
    Originally posted by joe beyser
    Seems like if evolution is the cause, then why would it have gone that route? Why not just evolve more potent venom or more of it with a more robust pumping apparatus? Maybe the barbed stinger makes sure some kind of pheromones stay with the sting victim in order to entice further attack? Wasps seem to get by fine without barbed stingers so evolution doesn't seem to make sense. It might have been an accidental gene mutation.
    Evolution is not a process which things and plans ahead. It does not simply 'evolve more potent venom'. With evolution, various strategies get tried out and whichever works best wins the day. There must also be a workable path between whatever is current and whatever comes next.
    Just because some other insect evolved a different strategy which works for it, doesn't mean it will evolve in bees. When you say 'evolution doesn't make sense' are you saying you don't understand how it works, or are you saying the results it comes up with are not what you would have chosen?
    The fact that both wasps and bees have been around longer than humans tells us that both strategies are reasonably successful.
  8. Standard member Bosse de Nage
    Zellulärer Automat
    27 Aug '09 07:28 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by divegeester
    Bee's have barbed stings so when they sting you they can't retract it. When they try to fly off the sting is pulled out along with most of the bee's gut. It dies.

    How has this defensive weapon been evolved by this creature as a competitve advantage when it dies if it uses it?
    The sting is a modified ovipositor. I have read that it doesn't get stuck in other bees, only creatures with hide or skin.

    "Although it is widely believed that a worker honey bee can sting only once, this is a partial misconception: although the sting is in fact barbed so that it lodges in the victim's skin, tearing loose from the bee's abdomen and leading to its death in minutes, this only happens if the victim is a mammal (or bird). The bee's sting is speculated to have evolved for inter-bee combat between members of different hives, and the barbs serve to improve penetration of the chitinous plates of another insect's exoskeleton. When bees sting elastic-skinned mammals, the barbs become a hazard to the bees as described above. Honey bees are the only Hymenoptera with a strongly barbed sting, though yellowjackets and some other wasps have small barbs."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_sting
  9. Standard member wolfgang59
    Infidel
    27 Aug '09 07:35
    Originally posted by divegeester
    I'm going to post this in spirituality as the idea may be worth exploring there also.

    Thoughts?
    My gf is terrified of bees/wasps so have been googling like mad recently!

    Its interesting to note that bees do NOT lose their sting when they sting other insects. The barb of the sting evolved to give an advantage over other insects and is a hazard to the individual when it stings animals with elastic skins (birds and mammals).

    Interestingly the sting of the Queen is NOT barbed and she can sting multiple times.

    Evolution rocks!
  10. 27 Aug '09 08:39 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    Its interesting to note that bees do NOT lose their sting when they sting other insects. The barb of the sting evolved to give an advantage over other insects and is a hazard to the individual when it stings animals with elastic skins (birds and mammals).
    That explanation sounds too simplistic to me. I suspect that the sting has evolved to be effective against both other insects (where the barbs help in penetration and do not cause problems) and also against birds and mammals where the barbs allow more poison to get injected and for pheromones to be released. There may even be other reasons for the barbs that we don't know about.
    It would probably be necessary to breed some unbarbed bees and test them in various circumstances before we can be sure of what overall benefit / detriment the barbs provide.
    What we can be fairly sure of is that the barbs currently do provide an evolutionary advantage over being unbarbed (if the rest of the body design remains unchanged).
  11. Standard member wolfgang59
    Infidel
    27 Aug '09 19:04
    I totally agree. I was surprised (and delighted) that the Queen has evolved not to have the barb ... a brilliant job by evolution as she obviously is the one to propagate the genes.

    The bee: exhibit A for the pro-evolution camp!
  12. Standard member wolfgang59
    Infidel
    27 Aug '09 19:11
    Originally posted by divegeester
    Bee's have barbed stings so when they sting you they can't retract it. When they try to fly off the sting is pulled out along with most of the bee's gut. It dies.

    How has this defensive weapon been evolved by this creature as a competitve advantage when it dies if it uses it?
    You thought worker bees had a bad deal after stinging? What about the drones?

    "Should a drone succeed in mating it will soon die because the penis and associated abdominal tissues are ripped from the drone's body at sexual intercourse."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_(bee)

    Ouch!
  13. 27 Aug '09 21:42
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    You thought worker bees had a bad deal after stinging? What about the drones?

    "Should a drone succeed in mating it will soon die because the penis and associated abdominal tissues are ripped from the drone's body at sexual intercourse."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_(bee)

    Ouch!
    Then there's the praying mantis who eats her mates head off right?
  14. 27 Aug '09 21:50
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    You thought worker bees had a bad deal after stinging? What about the drones?

    "Should a drone succeed in mating it will soon die because the penis and associated abdominal tissues are ripped from the drone's body at sexual intercourse."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drone_(bee)

    Ouch!
    No one said it was easy being a bee!

    I'm not convinced we have identified why a sub-group of the bee family has evolved a barb on it's sting guys.

    Why would the barb evolve? It serves no purpose we know of except to kill the bee in certain circumstances. Why not just evolve a sting without a barb like the wasp?
  15. 28 Aug '09 02:52
    Originally posted by divegeester
    No one said it was easy being a bee!

    I'm not convinced we have identified why a sub-group of the bee family has evolved a barb on it's sting guys.

    Why would the barb evolve? It serves no purpose we know of except to kill the bee in certain circumstances. Why not just evolve a sting without a barb like the wasp?
    Are you not reading the posts?
    The barb acts as an early warning system. When a bird or mammal (eg. bear) approaches the hive, the worker bee that stings it, has its insides pulled out because of the barb. This alerts the other bees to the danger and they can defend or attack as required.
    If there were no barb, then there would be no alert to danger.