The Value of Drones

While ‘natural beekeepers’ are employed to pondering a honeybee colony more regarding its intrinsic value towards the natural world than its ability 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’s been the reason behind the eye given to Apis mellifera since we began our connection to them just a couple thousand in the past.

In other words, I think most people – should they think of it in any respect – often imagine a honeybee colony as ‘a living system who makes honey’.

Before that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants and the natural world largely on their own – more or less the odd dinosaur – well as over a lifetime of tens of millions of years had evolved alongside flowering plants together selected people who provided the very best quality and level of pollen and nectar because of their use. We are able to feel that less productive flowers became extinct, save if you adapted to using the wind, rather than insects, to spread their genes.

It really is those years – perhaps 130 million by a few counts – the honeybee continuously evolved into the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature that people see and talk with today. On a number of behavioural adaptations, she ensured a top level of genetic diversity within the Apis genus, among which is propensity of the queen to mate at a ways from her hive, at flying speed at some height from the ground, which has a dozen possibly even male bees, that have themselves travelled considerable distances from other own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from another country assures a college degree of heterosis – important the vigour from a species – and carries a unique mechanism of choice for the drones involved: exactly the stronger, fitter drones have you ever gotten to mate.

A rare feature in the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening edge against your competitors for the reproductive mechanism, could be that the male bee – the drone – exists from an unfertilized egg by the process referred to as parthenogenesis. Which means that the drones are haploid, i.e. just have one set of chromosomes produced from their mother. Therefore means that, in evolutionary terms, the queen’s biological imperative of passing on her genes to future generations is expressed in her own genetic purchase of her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and therefore are thus an innate stalemate.

And so the suggestion I made to the conference was that the biologically and logically legitimate strategy for concerning 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 style of the honeybee colony provides us a totally different perspective, in comparison to the traditional viewpoint. We can now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels with this system as well as the worker bees as servicing the requirements of the queen and performing all the tasks needed to guarantee the smooth running from the colony, to the ultimate reason for 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 cause drones to be raised at certain times and evicted and even killed off sometimes. We are able to look at the mechanisms that may control the numbers of drones as being a amount of the overall population and dictate the other functions that they’ve in the hive. We could imagine how drones seem able to find their method to ‘congregation areas’, where they appear to gather when expecting virgin queens to give by, after they themselves rarely survive greater than about three months and almost never through the winter. There is certainly much we still are not aware of and may never completely understand.

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