The Value of Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are utilized to considering a honeybee colony more with regards to its intrinsic value towards the natural world than its capacity to produce honey for human use, conventional beekeepers along with the public as a whole less difficult prone to associate honeybees with honey. It’s been the reason behind the interest presented to Apis mellifera since we began our connection to them just a couple thousand years back.

In other words, I think most of the people – whenever they think it is in any way – often imagine a honeybee colony as ‘a living system that produces honey’.

Just before that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants along with the natural world largely to themselves – give or take the odd dinosaur – well as over a span of ten million years had evolved alongside flowering plants and had selected people that provided the best and volume of pollen and nectar for use. We could believe that less productive flowers became extinct, save if you adapted to working with the wind, instead of insects, to spread their genes.

For all of those years – perhaps 130 million by some counts – the honeybee continuously evolved into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature that individuals see and talk to today. On a amount of behavioural adaptations, she ensured a high amount of genetic diversity inside Apis genus, among which is propensity in the queen to mate at far from her hive, at flying speed and also at some height from your ground, with a dozen or so male bees, which have themselves travelled considerable distances from their own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from foreign lands assures a college degree of heterosis – important to the vigour from a species – and carries a unique mechanism of selection for the drones involved: just the stronger, fitter drones are you getting to mate.

A unique feature from the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening competitive edge on the reproductive mechanism, could be that the male bee – the drone – is born from an unfertilized egg by the process known as parthenogenesis. Because of this the drones are haploid, i.e. only have one set of chromosomes produced by their mother. Therefore implies that, in evolutionary terms, the queen’s biological imperative of passing it on her genes to our children and grandchildren is expressed in her own genetic investment in her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and so are thus a genetic stalemate.

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

Thinking through this type of the honeybee colony provides an entirely different perspective, in comparison to the conventional standpoint. We can now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels for this system and also the worker bees as servicing the requirements of the queen and performing all of the tasks forced to ensure that the smooth running from the colony, to the ultimate reason for producing excellent drones, that may carry the genes of the mother to virgin queens using their company colonies far away. We can easily speculate regarding the biological triggers that induce drones to be raised at certain times and evicted or even got rid of sometimes. We can easily consider the mechanisms which could control the numbers of drones like a amount of the entire population and dictate how many other functions that they’ve inside hive. We could imagine how drones appear to be able to uncover their strategy to ‘congregation areas’, where they seem to gather when expecting virgin queens to pass by, after they themselves rarely survive greater than a couple of months and rarely with the winter. There exists much that we still have no idea and may never fully understand.

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