Bees have been having some trouble lately: they're all dying off, and nobody's really sure why. This is a big deal, a really big deal, and up in Canada, they're breeding genetically enhanced super bees to try to fix everything. Nothing like this ever goes horribly wrong in the movies, so it must be a good idea.
Nobody really knows what causes Colony Collapse Disorder. It could be viruses, it could be mites, it could even be cellphones. But we do know that CCD has absolutely decimated honeybee populations all over the world. 30% of the bees in the U.S. are dead, and so are 30% of the bees in Europe. In the Middle East, they're looking at 85% of bees wiped out. The reason that you should care about this is that besides making honey, bees are responsible for pollinating 90% of the crops that grow the world's food supply, to the tune of some $83 billion every year. So when things are bad for bees, things are bad for everyone who likes to eat food.
Lots of people are trying to find out just exactly what the problem is, but the University of Manitoba has skipped ahead a bit, figuring that whatever the cause of CCD, having a more badass bee can't hurt. They've been exposing queen bees to nasty things like mite infestations and cold temperatures, and then breeding the survivors to help speed up bee evolution to handle these new threats. The result is a new subspecies of super bee that's both resistant to mites and about 25% more likely to make it through the winter alive.
Super bees might be a stopgap measure that'll help mitigate the issue of Colony Collapse Disorder, but until we figure out what the underlying cause is, even the superest super bees aren't going to bee strong enough to pollinate the entire planet on their own.
Via Fast Company