Thursday, 28 March 2013

A bug's love life

Many thanks to the students who introduced me to the reproductive cycle of bees yesterday. Male bees (drones), who develop from unfertilized eggs are essentially good for nothing. They don't forage, they can't feed themselves, they don't even have a stinger. They're tolerated just so they can try to mate with a queen bee during her nuptial flight; when that happens, they provide sperm that the queen will retain and use during her 4-5 year long life to fertilize her eggs. (More than a dozen males can provide the raw material during such a flight). Unfortunately for the poor guys, their genital organs are ripped off during the process, and the content of their abdomen is spilled (a bit like what happens when a female bee stings).

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