The Value of Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are used to considering a honeybee colony more with regards to its intrinsic value towards the natural world than its chance to produce honey for human use, conventional beekeepers as well as the public most importantly are much more likely to associate honeybees with honey. It has been the explanation for the eye directed at Apis mellifera since we began our connection to them just a few thousand in the past.

Quite simply, I think a lot of people – when they think it is whatsoever – often make a honeybee colony as ‘a living system that creates honey’.

Ahead of that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants and the natural world largely to themselves – give or take the odd dinosaur – and also over a duration of ten million years had evolved alongside flowering plants coupled with selected those which provided the very best quality and quantity of pollen and nectar for their use. We could believe that less productive flowers became extinct, save if you adapted to getting the wind, as an alternative to insects, to spread their genes.

Like those years – perhaps 130 million by some counts – the honeybee continuously developed into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature that we see and meet with today. On a amount of behavioural adaptations, she ensured an increased level of genetic diversity inside Apis genus, among which is propensity with the queen to mate at some distance from her hive, at flying speed and also at some height from the ground, using a dozen or so male bees, which have themselves travelled considerable distances using their own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from outside the country assures a degree of heterosis – fundamental to the vigour of any species – and carries a unique mechanism of choice for the drones involved: just the stronger, fitter drones are you getting to mate.

A silly feature from the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening edge against your competitors towards the reproductive mechanism, is that the male bee – the drone – arrives from an unfertilized egg by the process called parthenogenesis. This means that the drones are haploid, i.e. have only a bouquet of chromosomes produced by their mother. Thus implies that, in evolutionary terms, the queen’s biological imperative of passing it on her genes to our children and grandchildren is expressed in their genetic investment in her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and are thus a genetic no-through.

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

Thinking through this type of the honeybee colony provides us an entirely different perspective, when compared with the traditional standpoint. We could now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels because of this system and the worker bees as servicing the requirements the queen and performing all of the tasks needed to ensure that the smooth running from the colony, to the ultimate intent behind producing good quality drones, that may carry the genes of the mother to virgin queens business colonies distant. We are able to speculate for the biological triggers that cause drones being raised at times and evicted or even gotten rid of sometimes. We can take into account the mechanisms that may control the numbers of drones as being a area of the overall population and dictate any alternative functions that they’ve inside the hive. We are able to imagine how drones appear to be able to find their strategy to ‘congregation areas’, where they seem to gather when waiting for virgin queens to pass through by, when they themselves rarely survive more than about three months and seldom from the winter. There exists much that we still do not know and may even never grasp.

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