Bees and reproduction

This is a clarification on an important point raised during Rb Group 1’s discussion on reproduction in bees. Basically, there are three major types (or castes) of bees in a hive (could be more since bees have a very rigid social structure):

Queen bees have mating flights with 15-20 drones (haploid males) and store their sperm in a spermatheca (which can be accessed over long periods of time). These queen bees lay eggs that will either be a) fertilized with these sperm and develop into diploid queens-in-waiting and sterile worker bees or a) stay unfertilized and develop parthenogenetically into haploid drones.

How does an egg from a female develop into a male drone? This is because bees don’t define sexes the way we do. Humans define sexes genetically this way: females have two X chromosomes, males have X and Y. Bees define it using chromosome number: haploid bees are male, diploid bees are female. πŸ™‚

Mind-boggling? πŸ™‚


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