The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System

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Possible Solution to Bee Colony Collapse Disorder: Kamikaze Mosquitos

Martin on Feb 3rd 2015

The bee problem

Current apiary practice exposes honeybees to high loads of pesticides, especially around cloned species such as modern fruit and nut orchards. Several pesticides are implicated in bee immunity reduction, especially Neonicotinoids. However, the basic problem is not bees and pesticides, but rather that plants that don’t produce varieties that breed true require us to evolve chemical protections for them.

‘Granny Smith’ apples typify the problem: Every single Granny Smith apple tree is a clone. This is because if you were to plant a seed from a Granny Smith apple it would probably produce fruit that bore no resemblance to its parents. The original tree grew from a chance seedling and was discovered in Australia in the 1860s. Since then, cuttings have been taken around the world and now there are millions of genetically identical trees. These trees are the same as the original one. In many ways it is one tree. The pests, however, have had hundreds if not thousands of generations to adapt to this one individual’s immune system. We have had to develop chemicals and practices to combat pests for this tree. Over time these protections will need to counter-adapt as the pests do. These measures will probably become more toxic to insects. This is because insects act as both direct consumers of the plant and as vectors to spread disease.

Bees are insects. Their role as pollinators is necessary for large farms to produce industrial scale crops. They are carted around countries on flat beds trucks to the fields as they come in to bloom. Several techniques have been put in place to minimize bee exposure to pesticides and allow them to rest after toxic encounters. Nonetheless, ‘colony collapse disorder’ continues at an alarming rate. It is worth noting that most exposure of bees to pesticides happens around those plants of the greatest genetic homogeneity. So, perhaps a new solution is worth trying.

Possible alternative solution

Male mosquitos are known to play a role as pollinators. They do not bite (only the females do that) and so are not vectors for animal disease. Extensive work has already been done on producing sex-selected mosquitos but little has been done to discover their efficacy as pollinators.

I am proposing that a study be done on the efficiency of releasing male mosquitos to pollinate these orchards and fields that contain high pesticide loads. These ‘kamikaze mosquitos’ could pollinate and then die from either the exposure or at the end of their natural lifecycle. If cost effective, this would allow us to have our cloned crops and protect the bees.

It would be best to look at which species are the most efficient pollinators of which crops and to cross-reference with local mosquito population to make sure that hybridization isn’t possible. This also could be done in conjunction with mosquito population control schemes.

I am Martin T. Sherman, the CEO of Seavac Ltd. and inventor of the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System. Initially, I had planned on creating a company to provide disposable pollinators but I continue to be busy with other projects. So, after discussions with Hadyn Parry, CEO of Oxitec, I have decided to release the idea into the public domain.