Thursday, October 21, 2010

On Bees

I was driving to the notary today when a thought occurred to me:

"How the hell do bees evolve?"

I man really, how does that work? Normally one member of a species develops a trait that helps it survive better or at the very least have more children. Passing on those mutant freak genes is how complex life evolves. So how the hell do bees do it?

For one thing, bees have the wonderful defense mechanism of the stinger. Except they die when they sting you. So it's beneficial for other bees if one bee mutates and gets a stinger. Other animals learn not to eat bees, remaining bees thrive. Except now the only bee with a stinger is dead and there's no one to pass on the trait.

So maybe they all develop stingers. Then everybody protects everybody else. Great, except now we're talking simultaneous, parallel evolution of an entire species for the benefit of the species instead of individuals within that species. Cooperative evolution. Oh man.

Then of course we have to raise the issue that none of the bees who ever sting you get to reproduce. They have queens for that. The simplest answer, I suppose, is that it was evolutionarily beneficial for a specific queen bee to birth crazy, stinger-equipped mutant offspring to defend her and help her personal colony.

These bees ended up dominating all nee life until no other bees were left. Yes. Good.

You know, most people think about normal things in the car.

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