The Value of Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are utilized to considering a honeybee colony more when it comes to its intrinsic value for the natural world than its ability to produce honey for human use, conventional beekeepers as well as the public as a whole tend to be more prone to associate honeybees with honey. This has been the explanation for the attention provided to Apis mellifera because we began our connection to them just a couple thousand in years past.

Put simply, I think most people – when they consider it whatsoever – have a tendency to create a honeybee colony as ‘a living system which causes honey’.

Before that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants as well as the natural world largely to themselves – more or less the odd dinosaur – well as over a duration of millions of years had evolved alongside flowering plants coupled with selected people who provided the highest quality and amount of pollen and nectar for their use. We can easily assume that less productive flowers became extinct, save for those that adapted to working with the wind, as opposed to insects, to spread their genes.

Like those years – perhaps 130 million by some counts – the honeybee continuously evolved into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature that people see and speak to today. On a variety of behavioural adaptations, she ensured a top degree of genetic diversity from the Apis genus, among which is propensity with the queen to mate at a ways from her hive, at flying speed and at some height in the ground, using a dozen or so male bees, which may have themselves travelled considerable distances from their own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from foreign lands assures a qualification of heterosis – important to the vigour associated with a species – and carries its own mechanism of choice for the drones involved: exactly the stronger, fitter drones are you getting to mate.

A rare feature of the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening competitive edge to the reproductive mechanism, would be that the male bee – the drone – arrives from an unfertilized egg by a process called parthenogenesis. This means that the drones are haploid, i.e. only have some chromosomes derived from their mother. As a result implies that, in evolutionary terms, the queen’s biological imperative of creating her genes to future generations is expressed in her genetic investment in her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and they are thus an innate dead end.

So the suggestion I built to the conference was 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 most useful quality queens’.

Considering this type of the honeybee colony provides a totally different perspective, when compared to the typical perspective. We can now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels just for this system and the worker bees as servicing the requirements of the queen and performing every one of the tasks necessary to guarantee the smooth running from the colony, for the ultimate intent behind producing top quality drones, which will carry the genes of their mother to virgin queens using their company colonies far. We can speculate for the biological triggers that can cause drones to become raised at times and evicted or perhaps killed off sometimes. We are able to consider the mechanisms that will control the numbers of drones as a percentage of the overall population and dictate what other functions they’ve already within the hive. We can easily imagine how drones appear to be able to find their method to ‘congregation areas’, where they seem to assemble when looking forward to virgin queens to pass through by, after they themselves rarely survive a lot more than a couple of months and seldom through the winter. There is much that people still don’t know and may even never grasp.

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