How Queen Bees Keep Colonies Strong and Diverse

honey beesAt Hawaii’s Local Buzz, we give all of the credit for our raw honey from Hawaii to its real producers — the bees. They are amazing creatures, these buzzing little workers. Their complex social structures within the hive never cease to amaze. There is one honey bee in every colony whose role is often understated: the queen. Queen bees don’t sit on a royal throne all day and let others wait on them. Rather, they play a very important role in maintaining a colony’s strength and diversity.

There is remarkably high genetic diversity among honeybees, and this diversity is essential because it ensures that the bees are able to perform the diverse tasks required for survival of the colony. However, when you consider that all of the honeybees in a colony have the same mother (the queen), this diversity does not initially make sense. Digging a little deeper, researchers have found that the queen bee goes to great lengths to ensure the worker bees she produces are diverse as possible. She does so in two ways:

  1. She mates with as many drone bees as possible. Drones are male bees whose sole purpose is to mate with the queen. By mating with as many drones as she can, the queen receives a diverse selection of genes and ensures that the workers she produces have a variety of traits.
  2. Segments of chromosome pairs from the egg and sperm are interchanged after the queen bee mates. This process is known as crossing over, and it is crucial for creating genetically diverse bees that allow the colony’s survival.

Recombination and polyandry allow our honeybee colonies to stay strong and keep producing the delicious honey we all love so much. Visit Hawaii’s Local Buzz to sample our raw honey from Hawaii for yourself.

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