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The Need for Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are employed to thinking of a honeybee colony more in terms of its intrinsic value for the natural world than its capacity to produce honey for human use, conventional beekeepers and also the public as a whole tend to be more prone to associate honeybees with honey. It is been the reason behind the interest given to Apis mellifera because we began our connection to them just a few thousand years back.

To put it differently, I believe most of the people – if they it’s similar to whatsoever – often think of a honeybee colony as ‘a living system that creates honey’.

Before that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants and the natural world largely on their own – give or take the odd dinosaur – as well as over a span of tens of millions of years had evolved alongside flowering plants coupled with selected people that provided the very best quality and volume of pollen and nectar for his or her use. We can easily assume that less productive flowers became extinct, save if you adapted to working with the wind, as opposed to insects, to spread their genes.

Its those years – perhaps 130 million by a few counts – the honeybee continuously developed into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature we see and talk to today. On a quantity of behavioural adaptations, she ensured a top amount of genetic diversity inside Apis genus, among the propensity with the queen to mate at a ways from her hive, at flying speed and also at some height in the ground, using a dozen roughly male bees, which have themselves travelled considerable distances using their own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from another country assures a diploma of heterosis – fundamental to the vigour associated with a species – and carries a unique mechanism of selection for the drones involved: exactly the stronger, fitter drones find yourself getting to mate.

A rare feature from the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening edge against your competitors towards the reproductive mechanism, is the male bee – the drone – arrives from an unfertilized egg by the process referred to as parthenogenesis. Because of this the drones are haploid, i.e. only have one set of chromosomes produced by their mother. This in turn implies that, in evolutionary terms, the queen’s biological imperative of passing it on her genes to future generations is expressed in their own genetic acquisition of her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and so are thus a hereditary dead end.

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

Thinking through this model of the honeybee colony provides us a wholly different perspective, in comparison with the conventional perspective. We are able to now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels with this system along with the worker bees as servicing the requirements of the queen and performing all the tasks necessary to ensure the smooth running from the colony, for the ultimate intent behind producing good quality drones, that will carry the genes of these mother to virgin queens from other colonies a long way away. We are able to speculate for the biological triggers that create drones to get raised at times and evicted as well as wiped out at other times. We can easily think about the mechanisms that will control the numbers of drones as being a amount of the general population and dictate how many other functions they’ve already within the hive. We are able to imagine how drones appear to be capable of finding their way to ‘congregation areas’, where they appear to collect when waiting for virgin queens to feed by, once they themselves rarely survive greater than about three months and rarely through the winter. There is certainly much that we still have no idea and could never completely understand.

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