“Only with the sperm of your species’ strongest creature,” Morpheus intoned to Neo, “do you have any hope of survival.”
—The Matrix, except starring bees
I think we’re all familiar with colony collapse disorder (CCD) here — bees be dyin’, trouble be brewin’, etc., to use the scientific terms. (But seriously, bees pollinate a ton of our food, and their unexplained, massive die-offs are ominous and straight out of The X-Files.) So it’s cool that Washington State University researchers are trying to create The One in bee form, the super-bee that can survive CCD. It’s even cooler that they’re creating a bee sperm bank to do so, because sperm is one of our favorite topics:
[I]n an effort to find and utilize the needed genes, the USDA granted WSU a permit in 2008 to import honey bee semen for breeding purposes, subject to strict screening for viruses.
Taking only from the best, the scientists collected semen from Italian bees who are known to reproduce quickly and in order to create a bee resilient to the cold.
Those Italian bees, always so quick with the reproduction.
The researchers plan to mix the strongest Italian bee semen with the best American bees have to offer, in a sort of bizarre World Cup of reproductive juice. Researchers have two weeks to “inject [the semen] into the selected queen bee’s oviduct,” which is an incredibly romantic turn of phrase. Here’s hoping the plans for the super-bee are a success. Because CCD is a real buzzkill.