The Value of Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are widely-used to pondering a honeybee colony more with regards to its intrinsic value to the natural world than its chance to produce honey for human use, conventional beekeepers and the public at large less complicated prone to associate honeybees with honey. It is been the reason behind the interest provided to Apis mellifera because we began our connection to them only a few thousand years back.

To put it differently, I think a lot of people – if they think it is whatsoever – have a tendency to think of a honeybee colony as ‘a living system who makes honey’.

Just before that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants and also the natural world largely on their own – give or take the odd dinosaur – and also over a duration of tens of millions of years had evolved alongside flowering plants together selected people that provided the best and quantity of pollen and nectar for their use. We could believe that less productive flowers became extinct, save for individuals who adapted to working with the wind, as opposed to insects, to spread their genes.

It really is those years – perhaps 130 million by some counts – the honeybee continuously evolved into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature we see and speak to today. By means of a variety of behavioural adaptations, she ensured a higher degree of genetic diversity inside Apis genus, among which is the propensity from the queen to mate at a long way from her hive, at flying speed and also at some height in the ground, using a dozen possibly even male bees, who have themselves travelled considerable distances off their own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from foreign lands assures a degree of heterosis – important the vigour from a species – and carries a unique mechanism of choice for the drones involved: merely the stronger, fitter drones have you ever gotten to mate.

A rare feature of the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening competitive edge to the reproductive mechanism, is that the male bee – the drone – is born from an unfertilized egg by way of a process called parthenogenesis. Which means the drones are haploid, i.e. simply have a bouquet of chromosomes derived from their mother. Thus implies that, in evolutionary terms, top biological imperative of passing it on her genes to generations to come is expressed in her genetic purchase of her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and are thus an innate no-through.

Therefore the suggestion I made to the conference was that the biologically and logically legitimate means of regarding the honeybee colony is as ‘a living system for creating fertile, healthy drones with regards to perpetuating the species by spreading the genes of the most useful quality queens’.

Thinking through this type of the honeybee colony provides us a totally different perspective, when compared with the typical perspective. We can easily now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels for this system and also the worker bees as servicing the demands of the queen and performing every one of the tasks required to guarantee the smooth running of the colony, for that ultimate intent behind producing excellent drones, that will carry the genes of these mother to virgin queens off their colonies far away. We are able to speculate as to the biological triggers that induce drones to get raised at certain times and evicted and even killed off other times. We are able to think about the mechanisms that could control facts drones as a percentage of the entire population and dictate any alternative functions they own inside hive. We can easily imagine how drones appear to be able to get their method to ‘congregation areas’, where they seem to gather when awaiting virgin queens to pass by, when they themselves rarely survive over three months and rarely from the winter. There is certainly much we still are not aware of and might never fully understand.

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