The Need for Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are used to thinking about a honeybee colony more when it comes to its intrinsic value towards the natural world than its chance to produce honey for human use, conventional beekeepers as well as the public as a whole are much more likely to associate honeybees with honey. It has been the main cause of the eye presented to Apis mellifera since we began our association with them just a couple of thousand in the past.

In other words, I think most people – should they think it is in any respect – have a tendency to create a honeybee colony as ‘a living system that produces honey’.

Ahead of that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants along with the natural world largely to themselves – more or less the odd dinosaur – and over a span of millions of years had evolved alongside flowering plants together selected those which provided the highest quality and amount of pollen and nectar for his or her use. We are able to think that less productive flowers became extinct, save if you adapted to working with the wind, as an alternative to insects, to spread their genes.

Like those years – perhaps 130 million by a few counts – the honeybee continuously evolved into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature we see and talk to today. Through a variety of behavioural adaptations, she ensured an increased a higher level genetic diversity within the Apis genus, among the propensity in the queen to mate at some distance from her hive, at flying speed possibly at some height from 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 outside the country assures a degree of heterosis – fundamental to the vigour of the species – and carries its mechanism of selection for the drones involved: just the stronger, fitter drones ever get to mate.

A rare feature with the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening competitive edge for the reproductive mechanism, would be that 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 a bouquet of chromosomes derived from their mother. Therefore means that, in evolutionary terms, top biological imperative of passing it on her genes to future generations is expressed in their own genetic investment in her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and so are thus a hereditary no-through.

And so the suggestion I created to the conference was a biologically and logically legitimate means of concerning the honeybee colony is really as ‘a living system for creating fertile, healthy drones when it comes to perpetuating the species by spreading the genes of the best quality queens’.

Thinking through this style of the honeybee colony provides an entirely different perspective, in comparison with the conventional viewpoint. We can easily now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels just for this system as well as the worker bees as servicing the requirements of the queen and performing all of the tasks required to make sure the smooth running of the colony, for the ultimate function of producing good quality drones, that will carry the genes of their mother to virgin queens business colonies far away. We can speculate as to the biological triggers that can cause drones to become raised at specific times and evicted and even gotten rid of at other times. We are able to take into account the mechanisms that will control the numbers of drones as a percentage of the entire population and dictate any alternative functions they may have inside the hive. We can imagine how drones look like able to find their approach to ‘congregation areas’, where they seem to accumulate when waiting for virgin queens to pass through by, after they themselves rarely survive over three months and rarely from the winter. There is certainly much that individuals still have no idea and may never fully understand.

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