May 01, 2013
We had no idea this sort of thing was going on amidst the peonies and daylilies:
Nothing sounds more harmonious than a virgin sisterhood all labouring to help their ageing mother, but everything changes in mid-summer when the females suddenly turn on each other and the nest is rife with cannibalism, infanticide and incest.
This ensues when the queen begins laying unfertilised eggs from which, by a quirk of bumblebee genetics, males are born.
All would be well if the female workers were happy to look after their new brothers but, although celibate, they are also able to lay unfertilised eggs and can thus have sons of their own.
The result is bumblebee bedlam as mothers, sisters and daughters battle over whose sons will survive, eating each other’s eggs and biting and stinging one another. Sometimes, the queen is even killed by her daughters.
The males who have survived the in-fighting go on to mate with new queens from other nests, but will also happily impregnate those from their own nests, including their sisters. Their sole purpose in life now served, they will soon die.
So, too, will the female workers, the only survivors of the nest being the new queens who, once mated, enter hibernation. They will remain dormant until the following spring, when they are ready to begin this fascinating cycle of life all over again.
Bee careful, peoples. It's a jungle out there.
Posted by Cassandra at May 1, 2013 06:06 AM
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All of which serves as cautionary tale to those who would more love nature rather than just enjoy it - even vicariously.
If... men were reared under precisely the same condition as hive bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker bees think it a sacred duty to kill their mothers and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daighters, and no-one would think of interfering.
- Charles Darwin, Decent of Man
An extended attempt to show that the sentiments of people have their precise analogues and archetypes in the animal kingdom and that no extraordinary leap need be made in order to describe the moral sense, like the sense of beauty and the disposition to religion, i.e., sacred, as an evolved response, worker bees have not only a sense of duty, they possess the concept of the sacred also.
- Roger Scruton
I think Mr. Scruton called this the "charm of disenchantment" - the appeal of wiping away even the appearance of human distinctiveness.
Now tell us the one about headless males making the best lovers.
Posted by: George Pal at May 1, 2013 09:36 AM
Yikes! We have a whole herd of praying mantis living in the hedge along our front walk.
Love the quotes (I hadn't seen either one before). I get so frustrated at people saying, "X is only natural", as though that were the most important consideration. The whole purpose of culture (and religion) is to encourage us to rise above what's "only natural", or find constructive ways to channel nature.
The Darwin quote in particular seems analogous to the Left's response to some of the more abhorrent aspects of fundamentalist Islamic culture and morality. "It's their culture - we *have* to tolerate it!"
Well, no we don't. We don't have to respect it either. I don't get why people don't see the distinction between noninterference, tolerance, acceptance, and approval. One doesn't imply the others, and there are times when none of them are appropriate responses.
Posted by: Cass at May 1, 2013 12:11 PM
"It's their culture - we *have* to tolerate it!"
Unless it's Dead White Male Culture. Or Christian Culture. Or the Gun Culture, or the Suburban Culture. Or Redneck Culture. Or Kansas. Or ...
Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano who enjoys too much Geek Humor at May 1, 2013 12:32 PM
Fun and interesting discussion. I think it is funny when people talk about the harmony of nature and how we as humans should learn to live in harmony like nature. Nature is constantly in conflict; animals, insects, even the plants and trees are battling for dominance and territory.
Posted by: Tim Oakes at May 1, 2013 03:28 PM