While ‘natural beekeepers’ are widely-used to pondering 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 along with the public most importantly are much more prone to associate honeybees with honey. This has been the reason behind the attention provided to Apis mellifera since we began our connection to them just a couple of thousand in the past.
Put simply, I believe most of the people – when they it’s similar to in any way – often think of a honeybee colony as ‘a living system that creates honey’.
Before that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants and the natural world largely privately – give or take the odd dinosaur – and over a span of ten million years had evolved alongside flowering plants along selected those that provided the best quality and volume of pollen and nectar for use. We can think that less productive flowers became extinct, save for those that adapted to using the wind, as opposed to insects, to spread their genes.
For all of those years – perhaps 130 million by some counts – the honeybee continuously become the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature that people see and talk with today. Through a number of behavioural adaptations, she ensured a top degree of genetic diversity inside Apis genus, among the actual propensity from the queen to mate at a ways from her hive, at flying speed and also at some height through the ground, with a dozen roughly male bees, who have themselves travelled considerable distances from other own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from another country assures a college degree of heterosis – fundamental to the vigour of the species – and carries its mechanism of option for the drones involved: only the stronger, fitter drones find yourself getting to mate.
A unique feature from the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening edge against your competitors on the reproductive mechanism, is that the male bee – the drone – comes into the world from an unfertilized egg by the process referred to as parthenogenesis. Because of this the drones are haploid, i.e. have only some chromosomes produced from their mother. As a result implies that, in evolutionary terms, top biological imperative of passing on her genes to future generations is expressed in their genetic acquisition of her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and so are thus an innate stalemate.
And so the suggestion I built to the conference was which a biologically and logically legitimate means of concerning the honeybee colony will be as ‘a living system for producing fertile, healthy drones for the purpose of perpetuating the species by spreading the genes of the finest quality queens’.
Thinking through this label of the honeybee colony provides a completely different perspective, when compared with the standard viewpoint. We could 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 each of the tasks required to make sure the smooth running with the colony, for the ultimate function of producing good quality drones, that may carry the genes of their mother to virgin queens from other colonies distant. We can easily speculate regarding the biological triggers that can cause drones to be raised at times and evicted and even killed off sometimes. We are able to take into account the mechanisms that may control facts drones as being a amount of the overall population and dictate any alternative functions they own in the hive. We could imagine how drones appear to be capable of finding their way to ‘congregation areas’, where they appear to accumulate when looking forward to virgin queens to give by, after they themselves rarely survive over a couple of months and rarely with the winter. There is certainly much we still have no idea and may even never fully understand.
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