Better A Bee Than A Dairyman

Many in this world consider the human species way too important to have evolved from a primitive form in the distant past. They believe our intelligence and mental dexterity are so far above even the most advanced of animals, that any suggestion of a connection between the two is absurd.

Though relatively primitive creatures are capable of social interactions with their own kind, many humans fail to accept this is evidence of any evolutionary link between humankind and the animal kingdom.

Take honey bees, as an example. They live in colonies and maintain a rigid social order. A hierarchy exists within the colony, and while there are many varieties of honey bee, only one will be accepted within the colony. Any attempt at intrusion is met with fierce resistance, usually culminating in the demise of the unfortunate visitor.

Manish Kumar was just fifteen years old. He lived in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, and had fallen in love with a girl from his own village. He wrote to her telling of his affections. For this appalling crime he was kidnapped on his way to school by members of a rival caste; his head was shaved, he was beaten, then thrown to his death under the wheels of a moving train while his mother looked on helplessly.[1]

Manish Kumar was from the Yadav dairyman caste. The girl belonged to a different Indian community – the washerman – considered a lower caste than the dairyman.

Writing a love letter was Manish Kumar’s only crime, for which he suffered horrific torture before being murdered.

Recently, researchers from the Australian National University, working with honey bees, succeeded in overcoming their instinctive impulse to kill intruders and managed to cultivate the first ever mixed-species colony, combining Apis mellifera, the European honey bee, and Apis cerana, its Asiatic equivalent. While the two types each utilize different dialects, the researchers discovered both can communicate the whereabouts of food to the other, by dances of differing duration. Both species of bee can now live within one colony, coexisting in harmony.[2]

Perhaps, the researchers of the Australian National University should consider turning their attention to the eastern Indian state of Bihar?

[1] “Indian boy thrown under train in caste punishment” Daily Mail, November 20th 2008

[2] “Bees Can Count” Live Science, September 26th 2008

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