The Importance of Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are used to pondering a honeybee colony more in terms of its intrinsic value on the natural world than its chance to produce honey for human use, conventional beekeepers and the public most importantly tend to be more prone to associate honeybees with honey. It has been the main cause of the eye presented to Apis mellifera because we began our association with them just a few thousand in the past.

In other words, I believe a lot of people – should they consider it in any respect – tend to imagine a honeybee colony as ‘a living system which causes honey’.

Prior to that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants and the natural world largely on their own – more or less the odd dinosaur – and over a length of ten million years had evolved alongside flowering plants along selected those which provided the very best quality and quantity of pollen and nectar for his or her use. We are able to assume that less productive flowers became extinct, save for people who adapted to using the wind, rather than insects, to spread their genes.

Like those years – perhaps 130 million by a few counts – the honeybee continuously evolved into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature that we see and meet with today. Using a number of behavioural adaptations, she ensured a higher degree of genetic diversity inside Apis genus, among which is the propensity of the queen to mate at a long way from her hive, at flying speed and also at some height from your ground, with a dozen or so male bees, that have themselves travelled considerable distances from other own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from foreign lands assures a college degree of heterosis – vital to the vigour of the species – and carries its mechanism of option for the drones involved: exactly the stronger, fitter drones find yourself getting to mate.

A unique feature from the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening edge against your competitors for the reproductive mechanism, is that the male bee – the drone – comes into the world from an unfertilized egg with a process referred to as parthenogenesis. Which means that the drones are haploid, i.e. have only one set of chromosomes derived from their mother. As a result implies that, in evolutionary terms, top biological imperative of creating her genes to our children and grandchildren is expressed in their own genetic purchase of her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and they are thus a genetic no-through.

Therefore the suggestion I created to the conference was which a biologically and logically legitimate strategy for regarding the honeybee colony is really as ‘a living system for producing fertile, healthy drones for the purpose of perpetuating the species by spreading the genes of the greatest quality queens’.

Considering this label of the honeybee colony provides for us a completely different perspective, in comparison with the conventional perspective. We can easily now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels just for this system and also the worker bees as servicing the needs of the queen and performing every one of the tasks necessary to ensure that the smooth running in the colony, to the ultimate function of producing high quality drones, which will carry the genes of their mother to virgin queens using their company colonies a long way away. We can speculate as to the biological triggers that induce drones to be raised at certain times and evicted as well as gotten rid of at other times. We can think about the mechanisms that may control the numbers of drones as being a number of the overall population and dictate what other functions they’ve already within the hive. We could imagine how drones seem able to uncover their approach to ‘congregation areas’, where they appear to collect when waiting for virgin queens to feed by, once they themselves rarely survive more than a couple of months and almost never over the winter. There is much that we still don’t know and might never fully understand.

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