Nothing to do with Raspberries, Exactly

By Maeve Maddox

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You may soon be seeing media coverage of a newly discovered threat to the already endangered honey bee population called Rasberry crazy ants.

This previously unnoticed type of ant is thought to have entered the U.S. by way of a Texas port and is now busily at work destroying honey bee larvae and other things that human beings value.

Rasberry crazy ants are named for an exterminator named Tom Rasberry who first noticed their destructive habits in 2002. They’ve already caused millions of dollars of damage in Texas.

Honey bees are not their only target. The ants are attracted to electrical equipment and chew through insulation, causing short circuits.

Their scientific name is paratrenicha species near pubens.

The epithet “crazy” comes from the fact that these ants don’t travel in straight lines, but wander from side to side.

Since their scientific name is not likely to catch on, we can expect to see the word “Rasberry” in the news, a circumstance that may lead to confusion among insecure spellers.

The name of the fruit is spelled raspberry.

raspberry: 1623, earlier raspis berry (1548), possibly from raspise “a sweet rose-colored wine” (c.1460), from Anglo-L. vinum raspeys, origin uncertain, as is the connection between this and O.Fr. raspe, M.L. raspecia, raspeium, also meaning “raspberry.” One suggestion is via Old Walloon raspoie “thicket,” of Gmc. origin.

Raspberries can self-pollinate, but cross-pollination carried on by bees improves fruit weight and shape. Most of the fruit we like to eat, however, depends entirely on bees for pollination.

As a volunteer Master Gardener I’m especially aware of the plight of the honey bee. It’s astounding to me that some politicians and journalists seem to find the topic laughable.

NOTE: Some dictionaries list the forms honeybee or honey-bee. Entomologists write it as two words.
Paratrenicha species near pubens
Colony Collapse Disorder
article about bee ridicule in the media

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7 Responses to “Nothing to do with Raspberries, Exactly”

  • Victoria

    Perhaps watching the end of the Bee Movie should be compulsory for all politicians! We’d pretty much be scuppered with bees. Thanks for the interesting article.

  • Victoria

    oops .. meant to say WITHOUT bees

    (would that be considered a freudian slip?)

  • Vic

    Is this true, or are you just razzing us?

  • Bart Scrivener

    Rasberry may not be misspelled, but “honey bee” most certainly is. Your citation is vague. What entomologists? Where? How do they manage to overrule Webster’s? It’s one word: honeybee.

    And that “newly-discovered threat” is a frequently repeated mistake by amateur writers who don’t understand hyphenated modifiers. “Newly” is simply an adverb that modifies “discovered.”

  • S.D.

    Save the bees! Kill the rasberry ants 😀

  • Maeve Maddox

    You got me on the hyphen, but keep looking on the spelling of honey bee. I believe you’ll find it spelled as two words on most university sites. The 1998 Beekeepers Handbook has this note:

    “The word is correctly written as two words, although some bee journals and texts cling to the use of ‘honey bee’ as one word.”

    Merriam-Webster gives honeybee, but the OED gives honey-bee.

  • Daquan Wright


    Seems honey bee is perfectly acceptable.

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