There is an article in the newspaper today about bees
. I ask the computer programmers amongst us; if your superior asked you to design a bee's software, how would you do it? How long is a bee's source code? Two pages of A4
? If there was a way to interface with a bee's brain, could it be used to store and transport information - like a flying, buzzing Johnny Mnemonic
If anybody tried to intercept the information, the bee could defend itself, and die in the process, thus erasing the data; therefore the information would have be to stored in several bees at once, under the assumption that at least one of the bees would get through, and that the other bees would forget it eventually, or die of old age, or of boredom. I do not know how long it takes bees to forget things, and the article does not mention this.
Is it possible to revive a dying bee with a steroid injection to the heart? If so, the bees would have to be equipped with a special poison capsule such that, when the bee uses its stinger, the poison capsule is in turn activated, thus killing the bee instantly stone dead. An alternative solution might be to create a bee with a retrograde stinger, so that any attempt to sting a foe - something which the bee would only attempt in a dire emergency, one which would justify the death of the bee - would result in the bee's demise. I assume that bees are immune to their own poison, which is an issue that would have to be worked on by the scientists. A cyanide-stinging bee would make a handy weapon of assassination, if only the bees could be taught to identify and sting designated human beings.
There might be moral objections to using bees this way. Wasps might be more acceptable. They can sting and sting and sting, and no-one likes wasps. Bees make honey, and mind their own business; wasps are against all that is pure and good. They are vermin enemies of the human race.
(Daily Telegraph, 12 May 2005, p10, "Radar solves mystery of bees and the waggle dance")
The "waggle dance", a code that shows the distance and direction of newly-discovered food, was first described by the zoologist Karl von Frisch. After some dispute, this discovery would earn him a Nobel prize in 1973.
He believed other bees who observed this dance (recruits) could "read" the code to fly directly to food. But recruits always seemed to take much longer to arrive than expected if they flew directly.
Despite this, von Frisch's ideas were backed by indirect experiments carried out by scientists who used dancing robot bees, manipulated dances and made bees fly through patterned tunnels.
The article has a photograph of a bee with a radar transponder on its back. It's a all-weather night-fighting instrument-flying bee, rather like the butterflies with similar transponders from a few months ago. Has there been a breakthrough in radar transponders recently? Dancing robot bees? Bueller?
Apparently the bee has two basic dances, one of which involes waggling the abdomen. In contrast to this, human beings have several dances, such as the watusi and the twist, some of which do not involve waggling the abdomen. However, if the bees do not dance, they die. Whereas if people do not dance... only their soul dies.