Zeke Freeman
Written by Zeke Freeman

She Gets Around


We won't call her promiscuous—but she does get around. The queen bee that is. When one queen survives in a colony, she will fly out on a sunny, warm day to a drone congregation area where she will mate with 12-15 drones. If the weather holds, she may return to the drone congregation area for several days until she is fully mated. The young queen stores the sperm in her spermatheca. She will selectively release sperm from that one mating flight for the remaining 2-7 years of her life.

The young queen has only a limited time to mate. If she is unable to fly for several days because of bad weather and remains unmated, she will become a "drone layer." Drone-laying queens usually mean the death of the colony, because the workers have no fertilized (female) larvae from which to raise a replacement.

A special, rare case of reproduction is thelytoky: the reproduction of female workers or queens by laying worker bees. Thelytoky occurs in the Cape bee, Apis mellifera capensis, and has been found in other strains at very low frequency.—N.B.

The Save the Bees Fund > Seeds that will Save the Bees > Raw Honey Gifts

Topics: Save the Bees, Bee Trivia