On Nautilus, John Knight has this fascinating piece on his experiences with a beehive, which he kept on the roof of his apartment. When his queen dies, Knight immediately learns to appreciate the loyalty bees have for their monarch, and the loyalty a beekeeper must have for its beehive.
[...] As a new queen begins to produce her own pheromones, the hive slowly aligns with her as the old bees die and new workers hatch. In a sense, the hive is genetically wired to be loyal to the monarchy. If the hive was to raise multiple queens, or if the workers were to start laying eggs, the interests of the population would slowly fracture.
In a healthy hive, a queen will lay hundreds, sometimes thousands of eggs each day in spring and summer, which she either fertilizes or doesn’t. The fertilized eggs, the females, can either grow to be workers or queens. The unfertilized eggs become male drones that do nothing but inseminate the queen—quite literally, flying bags of semen. Drone bees, though crucial for reproduction, don’t forage or sting or raise brood—they can’t even feed themselves.
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