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While ‘natural beekeepers’ are employed to considering a honeybee colony more with regards to 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 very likely to associate honeybees with honey. It has been the main cause of the eye provided to Apis mellifera because we began our connection to them just a couple of thousand years back.

Put simply, I think most people – whenever they think it is whatsoever – usually make a honeybee colony as ‘a living system which causes honey’.

Just before that first meeting between humans and honeybees, these adaptable insects had flowering plants along with the natural world largely on their own – give or take the odd dinosaur – and also over a duration of tens of millions of years had evolved alongside flowering plants and had selected people that provided the very best quality and volume of pollen and nectar because of their use. We could believe that less productive flowers became extinct, save if you adapted to presenting the wind, as opposed to insects, to spread their genes.

For all of those years – perhaps 130 million by a few counts – the honeybee continuously turned out to be the highly efficient, extraordinarily adaptable, colony-dwelling creature that individuals see and meet with today. On a quantity of behavioural adaptations, she ensured an increased amount of genetic diversity from the Apis genus, among which is propensity of the queen to mate at a ways from her hive, at flying speed and at some height from your ground, having a dozen approximately male bees, who have themselves travelled considerable distances from their own colonies. Multiple mating with strangers from foreign lands assures a diploma of heterosis – important the vigour of the species – and carries a unique mechanism of choice for the drones involved: merely the stronger, fitter drones find yourself getting to mate.

A silly feature with the honeybee, which adds a species-strengthening competitive edge to the reproductive mechanism, would be that the male bee – the drone – comes into the world from an unfertilized egg by a process called parthenogenesis. Which means the drones are haploid, i.e. have only a bouquet of chromosomes derived from their mother. Thus means that, in evolutionary terms, the queen’s biological imperative of creating her genes to future generations is expressed in her genetic purchase of her drones – remembering that her workers cannot reproduce and therefore are thus an inherited dead end.

Hence the suggestion I created to the conference was that the biologically and logically legitimate way of concerning the honeybee colony can be as ‘a living system for creating fertile, healthy drones when it comes to perpetuating the species by spreading the genes of the finest quality queens’.

Thinking through this style of the honeybee colony provides us a wholly different perspective, when compared with the traditional standpoint. We could now see nectar, honey and pollen simply as fuels just for this system and the worker bees as servicing the requirements of the queen and performing every one of the tasks forced to make sure the smooth running in the colony, for that ultimate reason for producing top quality drones, which will carry the genes of these mother to virgin queens off their colonies a long way away. We can speculate regarding biological triggers that create drones to become raised at peak times and evicted as well as wiped out at other times. We can easily consider the mechanisms that could control the numbers of drones as a percentage of the general population and dictate the other functions they own inside the hive. We are able to imagine how drones appear to be capable of finding their approach to ‘congregation areas’, where they seem to gather when looking forward to virgin queens to pass by, when they themselves rarely survive over about three months and rarely through the winter. There exists much that people still have no idea and could never grasp.

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Doug Wilcox