California’s Killer Bees Are Spreading North

Bad news for apiphobes: “Killer” bees are on the move in the United States.

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego recently collected hundreds of bees around the Golden State to determine how far north hybrid honeybees, or Africanized bees, have spread since they first arrived in the state in 1994.

They found that Africanized bees — which possess genes from both European and African honeybees — now live as far north as California’s delta region (about 25 miles, or 40 kilometers, south of Sacramento). And in the southern part of the state, so-called “killer” bees run the show. About 65 percent of the honeybeesthat buzz around San Diego County have a mix of European and African genes, the researchers found. [No Creepy Crawlies Here: Gallery of the Cutest Bugs]

“The pattern of Africanization we documented in San Diego County and elsewhere in California appears consistent with patterns previously documented in Texas, where Africanized honey bees first appeared in the United States,” Joshua Kohn, a professor of biology at UC San Diego and co-author of the new study, said in a statement.

While Africanized bees have taken up residence throughout the American South, Southwest, Southeast and Western coastal regions, their ability to set up permanent colonies in the northern parts of the country seems to be limited by cold temperatures during the winter months, Kohn said. However, higher temperatures caused by global warming could mean that killer bees may continue to push north in the coming years, he added.

There are a few reasons why the range of Africanized bees in California and other states is important, Kohn told Live Science. For one, these bees are highly aggressive, he said. People in California, Arizona and Texas (as well as several other states) have been seriously injured or killedafter enduring thousands of stings from Africanized bees, which are quick to defend their hives. Knowing where those hives might be is a good starting point for preventing future attacks, Kohn said.

But scientists don’t just want to track the migration of Africanized bees because of their killer instincts. Kohn and Yoshiaki Kono, a graduate student in UC San Diego’s Department of Biological Sciences and lead author of the new bee study, are also curious about the spread of the Africanized bees’ more desirable qualities, such as their resistance to some of the diseases and mites that are killing off honey bees in other parts of the country, Kohn said.

The flight of the honeybee

The story of killer bees started in the 1950s. In an effort to breed honeybees better suited to South America’s tropical climate, a biologist in Brazil imported a subspecies of bee (Apis mellifera scutellata) from southern Africa to interbreed with bees from Europe. But winged insects are hard to contain, and several swarms of African bees escaped into the wild.

The runaway bees bred with local populations of European honeybees, and their hybrid descendants spread, mating with other European bees along the way. This intermingling of the African and European honeybees’ gene pools is known as Africanization because it’s the African genes that generally prevail, according to Kohn. The typical Africanized bee in California has a genome made up of 70 to 80 percent African genes and only 20 to 30 percent European genes, he added. [On the Hunt: Honeybee Scouts Find Food]

African genes, and the qualities they are associated with, are dominant because they are favored by natural selection, Kohn said. An Africanized bee’s slightly larger size and high reproduction rate give it certain advantages over non-Africanized bees, for example.

Africanized bees also appear to be more resistant to certain diseases and parasites compared to European bees, Kohn said. In fact, there are many studies that back up this claim. One study, published in 2010 in the journal Experimental and Applied Acarology, found that Africanized bees may be more resistant to the parasitic mite Varroa destructor (an insidious foe inside bee colonies) because of the bees’ grooming behaviors and the lowered fertility of the mites inside the brood, or honeycomb of the Africanized hive.

Right now, most of California’s Africanized bees are feral — the study found that only 13 percent of managed hives in San Diego County carried the African mitotype (mitochondrial DNA), as opposed to 70 percent of feral hives in the county. Most beekeepers prefer European honeybees because Africanized bees are so much more difficult to manage, Kohn said.

But, there may be a way for beekeepers to get the disease resistance they’re looking for in European bees while minimizing the risk that Africanized bees pose.

“By dissecting the genomes of Africanized honey bees to find regions responsible for advantageous traits, we may be able to combat recent declines in managed honey bee populations that are so critical for food production,” Kohn said.

Disease-resistant bees that aren’t likely to kill anyone could be a win-win for everyone.

Meet 6 Animals That Predict World Cup Winners

an octopus named Paul correctly predicted the outcome of eight World Cup matches in a row, including the final showdown between Spain and the Netherlands.

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In 2010, after winning worldwide attention as an animal oracle, Paul passed away at the tender age of two and a half – a normal lifespan for an octopus vulgaris. But a raft of other animals have been competing to fill Paul’s, er, shoes in the 2014 World Cup season. So far, however, the would-be successors to Paul the Octopus haven’t been faring so well.

Nelly the Elephant predicted that the German team would overtake the Ghanians in the second round. The match, however, ended in a tie.

Pele the Piranha predicted that the host country of Brazil would defeat Mexico. This match, however, also ended in a tie.

Flopsy the Kangaroo, a.k.a.  the “Predictaroo,” correctly predicted that Brazil would defeat Croatia in the opening match of the World Cup but flopped badly in predicting that Australia would defeat Chile.

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Alves the Tapir also correctly predicted the outcome of the opening match between Brazil and Croatia. But he wrongly predicted that England would prevail over the Netherlands, whose team is still going strong.

Big Head the Turtle was the third animal to correctly predict the outcome of the Brazil-Croatia match. But, like Pele the Piranha, he wrongly predicted that Mexico would beat the host country of Brazil in their second match (it ended in a tie).

So, for now, much hope – at least here in the United States – rides on Nasar, a prognosticating horse who lives inside a 300-year-old farmhouse in Hold, Germany, with his owner, Stephanie Arndt, a doctor. When the online editorial office of a local newspaper enlisted the horse’s help in predicting the winner of the U.S.-Germany World Cup match on June 26, Nasar predicted that the United States would win by kicking a beach ball into a miniature soccer goal with a U.S. flag attached to it.

Could Nasar be the real deal – the never-fail Ouija of the animal kingdom? Stay tuned.

 

Also of Interest

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  • Fight fraud and ID theft with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.

Birds of a Feather Photos of Hummingbirds Hawks & Jays

In the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona, black-chinned hummingbirds have a clever strategy to keep their nests safe: They recruit unknowing hawks for home security. Hummingbird nests cluster near hawk nests, and those hawks keep away the predatory jays that snatch hummingbird eggs, researchers reported Sept. 4 in the journal Science Advances. [Read full story about how hummingbirds recruit hawks for protection]A female black-chinned hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) perches on a twig. The daily survival rate of a hummingbird nest built nearby a hawk’s nest is 31 percent, compared with only 6 percent for hummingbird nests not near hawk roosts. (Credit: Harold F. Greeney, Yanayacu Biological Station

STEPS TO FOLLOW WHILE GETTING YOUR PET A PET INSURANCE

steps-to-follow-while-getting-your-pet-a-pet-insuranceWe get a knock out of the chance to know the nuts and bolts of pet protection since it is imperative. However, how about we return to the fundamental purpose of this article? How does pet protection work? It is truly basic, and it can be separated into three stages.

Step 1 – Get Proper Treatment From The Vet

In the case of something happens, and your pet needs therapeutic consideration, take them to the vet.

Step 2 – File a Claim

Every organization has its own procedure for recording claims, yet ordinarily, you can download the case structure from the organization’s site, round it out, and attach the receipts while sending it to the vet office.

Step 3 – Get Reimbursed

Most pet protection arranges have diverse levels of repayment that you can look over, contingent upon the sum you are willing to spend every month. When you present your case, the insurance agency will repay you in five to 14 business days.

It is not a muddled procedure, but rather you ought to ensure you pick an insurance agency that will truly deal with you and your pet.

Things to ask About Pet Insurance

As you are searching for pet protection, there are a few inquiries you ought to request that ensure you discover an organization that addresses your issues.

Will you utilize your present vet?

Great pet insurance agencies do permit you to utilize any authorized vet in the United States, and some will even cover visits in Canada. That way, in case you are going with your pet, and something happens, you can, in any case, record a case.

Do insurance agencies repay what the vet charges?

Yes. There are not any profit cut-off points or additional expenses, however, the repayment sum relies on upon the level you looked over the starting. Commonly, you can pick repayment measures of 80%, 90%, and even 100%, yet these levels will influence your month to month premium.

Do you need to pay additional for inherited, intrinsic, or endless conditions to be secured?

Usually, the response to this is no. If it’s not, then you ought to investigate other pet insurance agencies.

Are prior conditions secured?

Similarly, as with most insurance agencies, prior conditions are not secured. You may run over the uncommon insurance agency that will cover previous conditions.

Does the approach of routine check up considerate?

Here’s the place you must be cautious: some insurance agencies will cover routine consideration, yet they won’t cover much for real episodes, for example, surgery. The best pet insurance agencies do not cover routine consideration since they are intended to cover the costly care alternatives.