Finally! Glow-in-the-dark honey bees! We’ve all been waiting for these glow bugs to complement our glow-in-the-dark radium-painted wristwatches and glow-in-the-dark jelly bean collections. Now you can have the complete set of things you probably didn’t know existed. Researchers at Germany’s Heinrich Heine University have announced they were able to add a glowing gene to a fertilized honey bee egg, feed the resulting larva enough royal jelly to create a queen, then produce drones that carry the gene. The idea was not to help scout and forager bees work more effectively at night (the Heinrich Heine Tech College is working on miniature flashlights) or to help hive bees see the waggle dance more clearly (disco balls were introduced in the 70s to accomplish that), but according to post-doc tinkerer Christina Schulte, the scientists were simply trying a “proof of concept” experiment. It worked. Glowing applications will come later.
The honey bee genome was fully decoded in 2006. That was almost ten years ago. I thought by now we would have genetically-modified stingless honey bees, honey bees that never die, and, of course, bees modified by Monsanto to be resistant to Bayer’s neonicotinoids. Science sometimes lags necessity, doesn’t it?