I had to share this. The folks at PHYSORG.com printed an article based upon bee research, which seemed to me, worded in such a way as to raise my
suspicion about what was trying to be said.
The article, "Secret life of bees now a little less secret" offers what appears to be "news" regarding what a group of researchers have reported
regarding the nature of the relationship between bees and pollen.
Many plants produce toxic chemicals to protect themselves against plant-eating animals, and many flowering plants have evolved flower structures
that prevent pollinators such as bees from taking too much pollen. Now ecologists have produced experimental evidence that flowering plants might also
use chemical defences to protect their pollen from some bees. The results are published next week in the British Ecological Society's journal
Further on, the researchers, which the authors at PHYSORG seem compelled to call "ecologists," say some strange things. I should explain that I put
the work ecologists in quotes because the blanket statement seems contradictory to the actual intentions expressed by the vairious institutes and
publications from which the material was derived (not implying that there was a reason, but it should be noted nevertheless). I will return to this
Here's the gist of the information: The researches conducted an experiment, feeding specific plant-pollen to different species of bees. They found
that some could not develop properly on such an exclusive diet. For example:
... [Researchers] ... collected pollen from four plant species – buttercup, viper's bugloss, wild mustard and tansy – using an ingenious
method. Instead of themselves collecting pollen from plants, the researchers let bees do the leg work, harvesting pollen from the nests of specialist
bees which only feed on one type of plant.
Now, I must point out, these bees have presumably evolved or adapted to such exclusive diets... the experimenters then proceeded with their
According to Claudio Sedivy: "While the larvae of Osmia cornuta were able to develop on viper's bugloss pollen, more than 90% died within days on
buttercup pollen. Amazingly, the situation was exactly the opposite with the larvae of Osmia bicornis. And both bee species performed well on wild
mustard pollen, while neither managed to develop on tansy pollen."
Here is the 'news' as portrayed to the community of those interested:
"As far as we know, this is the first clear experimental evidence that bees need physiological adaptations to cope with the unfavourable chemical
properties of certain pollen," he says."
Now if I might ask you.... re-read the above conclusion.....
to cope with the unfavourable chemical properties
Which, to this layman, evokes a response which sort of goes like this:
Maybe, you could say the same thing about humans trying to survive on straw and wood pulp.
We haven't the physiological adaptation (like the correcdt gut bacteria) to extract any energy from these would-be foods. The bees you've studied
didn't "choose" or "attempt" to survive on the pollen in question, they were restricted to it artifically. You would have gotten similar results in
any case, with any animal or insect who's normal diet is changed exclusively to something they do not consume.
However, this 'experimental observation' lays the groundwork for a claim that disturbs me...
Plants would have good reason to protect their pollen against bees. Bees need enormous amounts of pollen to feed their young, pollen that could
otherwise be used by the plants for pollination. The pollen of up to several hundred flowers is needed to rear one single larva, and bees are very
efficient gatherers of pollen, often taking 70-90% of a flower's pollen in one visit. Because they store this pollen in special hairbrushes or in
their gut, this means the pollen is not used to pollinate the flower.
Notice that!? Suddenly the eons-old success of our ecosystem in cross-polination by bees and other insects is a "threat" to the plant? Considering
we are talking about billions upon billions of pollen spores and only ONE is necessary to successfully reproduce, what exactly are they intimating
here..... that plants are trying to 'kill' bees?
That bees are detrimental
to plant survival? Where could such faux-logic lead?
After this... they soften their stance, admitting that there might be a chemical component involved, but not central to the survival strategy of the
I feared, for a moment reading this piece, that there might be an ulterior motive to the point of the research and it's assertions of 'scientific'
fact... like perhaps, we need to genetically modify bees, or that nature itself may be removing bees from the cycle of polination.... which I am
inclined to disbelieve.
One of the most important factors in validating ANY research nowadays, is knowing who's paying for it, and who's profiting from it. Clearly this
would be a 'GMO' friendly research piece wouldn't it? So I dug a little into facts which are only indirectly related to the article.
First... the publication cited was "Functional Ecology"
This publication is among others created and disseminated by the British Ecological Society www.britishecologicalsociety.org...
The BES, structured as a limited corporation and charitable organization, is comprised of committees and an executive body. The organization claims
goals and srategies to "develop" ecological science, and scientists. To promote the use of the sicence, to build "collaborative partnerships"
(although they fail to mention with whom); also, explicitly, to "Ensure financial sustainability"... to which I must ask "of what?" science? ecology?
The club? The executive body "regularly reviews the committees and decision making structures of the Society to ensure they are fit for purpose"
(again, what purpose is unspecified.)
The 'plan' is rife with the usual feel-good pablum of corporate authors, but fails to assuage me that they are not averse to working with
institutional agendas different than the promotion of scientific fact, and the earnest pursuit of knowledge. But I can't fault them for that; I am,
after all, clearly a cynic.
However, and more to he point, this research wasn't done by the BES, only published by it. The research was done by an "Institute"; namely, the
"Institute of Agricultural Sciences (IAS)" in Switzerland (Das Institut für Agrarwissenschaften (IAS) ist die Plattform für Forschung und Lehre in
den Agrarwissenschaften der ETH Zürich.)
The proper title of the organization is actually (I think) "ETH Zurich, Institute of Plant, Animal and Agroecosystem Sciences, Applied Entomology"
Now this institute; which is as most institutes, a corporate and privately-funded organization, claims that they insist on a multidisciplinary
approach to research.
Furthermore, and somewhat alarmingly, they state within their own mission statement, something which I think translates to this....
The improvement of agriculture cannot benefit from 'purely' scientific discipline, [agriculture] is too complex and interconected with natural
resource conservation which require an interdisciplinary approach.
The solution to the problems require technical and highly trained scientists to consider the different production systems and relationships of
[/end rough translation attempt]
They seem to say that they need to bring agro insustrial technological concerns into the mix of agro-research. They specifically state, as a goal,
that they wish to engender 'sustainable' agriculture in light of the ecosystem and its changes.
Calling these researches "Ecologists" as opposed to "Entomologists" and "Botanists" is like calling a "Meteorologist" an "Atmospheric Climate
So why all the effort to look into this?
Because we NOW (finally) KNOW that the "Agro-Industry" along with their chemical partners, screwed around with the ecosystem to make pesticide
producing plants. We KNOW the governments around the world acquiesced and let them propagate this stuff.... and the Bees are paying the price (for
now... more to come later, I'm sure"
Suddenly, there's a "new" approach to considering the Bees and their plight... with verbiage like:
"Bees" need physiological adaptations to cope with the unfavourable chemical properties of certain pollen.
Which sounds to me like the beginning of an idea... a chemical idea.... an idea I would rather not have Big Agro, Big Chemical, or Big Pharma
Thanks for reading.
(visit the link for the full news article)