Properly, this isn’t a pleasant story. Apparently 63 endangered African penguins have been stung to dying by honey bees final week. My first thought, after all, was that the perpetrator was one of many extra vicious African honey bees – Apis mellifera scutellata or adansonii, the cousins of America’s Africanized honey bees. However the penguins lived alongside the south cape of Africa and so they appear to have bee attacked by a disturbed a nest of Cape honey bees, a honey bee not typically identified for such cruelty.
The Cape bee, Apis mellifera capensis, is an uncommon race of honey bees. It’s notably identified for its skill to supply staff able to producing feminine offspring. (Different honey bees have ‘laying staff’ that may solely produce drones.) The Cape bee has been naturally restricted to the Cape area of South Africa. However agricultural pollination led to business migratory beekeeping in South Africa. This resulted in some relocation of capensis exterior their regular vary. Sadly, capensis is a social parasite – they’ll occupy different races’ nests and rapidly substitute them. Consequently, the federal government has divided scutellata beekeepers from capensis beekeepers with a strictly enforced demarcation line.
A second enjoyable truth in regards to the Cape bee lies in its centuries-old cultural connection to the world’s indigenous individuals. The Xhosa have a convention of welcoming wayward swarms of Cape bees by making a tank of beer and celebrating the bees’ arrival with a couple of rounds. (I do know Calgary swarm-collectors who’ve an analogous custom right here in my hometown.)
In response to the New York Occasions, the Cape bees might have attacked the Cape penguins when their nest was disturbed:
All of the penguins had a number of bee stings, and “many lifeless bees have been discovered on the web site the place the birds had died,” based on an announcement from the South African Nationwide Parks. “Due to this fact preliminary investigations recommend that the penguins died due to being stung by a swarm of Cape honey bees.”
No exterior bodily accidents have been noticed on any of the lifeless penguins, the assertion stated.The penguins migrate to the world yearly. The bees discovered close to the lifeless birds are native to the world, “normally coexist with wildlife” and “don’t sting except provoked,” based on Dr. Alison Kock, a marine biologist on the South African Nationwide Parks.
The penguins had been stung across the eyes and on their flippers, areas not lined by feathers, Dr. Kock stated.
“The feathers over the penguin’s physique are densely packed and it’s unlikely the bees stings may have penetrated by these feathers,” Dr. Kock stated in an electronic mail. “However, the pores and skin across the eyes and flippers don’t have any feathers and the stings may penetrate in these areas.”
Exams are underway to find out if a toxin or a illness was an element within the penguins’ deaths, park officers stated. To this point, officers imagine the bees’ nest was disturbed, inflicting “a mass of bees to flee the nest, swarm and so they grew to become defensive and aggressive,” Dr. Kock stated. “Sadly the bees encountered a gaggle of penguins on their flight path.”
The Cape Penguin is endangered, so the lack of sixty birds due to bee stings is critical. Nevertheless, these deaths pale compared to what we people have been in a position to accomplish. Oil spills in 1994 and 2000 killed 30,000 of the birds. Overfishing has lowered the birds’ meals provide, leading to hunger and fewer reproductive success. However for now, the stinging bees and sixty lifeless penguins are making headlines all over the world.