It's All About The Sex
Is there anything more delicious than a dollop of honey on toast, a fresh biscuit, or drizzled on your cereal? Not only is this sweet treat a highly desirable foodstuff for humans, its manufacturers are an integral part of the agricultural community.
Honeybees are estimated to carry out approximately 80% of pollination done by insects as a whole. Pollen, which is a rich combination of proteins, sugars, carbohydrates, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, is the food of life for the bee, and when taken home and stored in their hives, becomes food for animals in the wild, and for humans when harvested by beekeepers.
But who is doing all the work? In a hive of up to 80,000 bees in the summer, there will be one queen bee who is fertile and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day. There are as many as 3,000 drones, who are male bees that hatch from the queen's fertilized eggs. Their sole purpose is to mate with a new queen, since the queen will only breed once in a lifetime that lasts 3-5 years. The balance of the population are infertile female worker bees that are hatched from unfertilized eggs of the queen. They gather the pollen, fan the nursery to regulate temperature, and do all the chores of honey-making.
If it sounds like the drones have it made, they do. But not for long. While a queen bee will mate only once, she mates with several males at a time and then remains fertile till she dies. The males she mated with die immediately, having lost their barbed penis on breeding the queen. And in winter, because they have no purpose, drones are chased off before the colony of bees withdraws into the hive to hibernate.