In a new study, researchers are buzzing after discovering how some female bees have been able to reproduce asexually, potentially weeding out males from their species long term.
The single gene is called GB45239 and in the South African Cape Honey Bee it’s what’s allowing them to reproduce asexually.
These ‘virgin’ bees don’t need males in the process – shattering the ‘birds and bees’ joke.
“Scientists have been looking for this gene for the last 30 years. Now that we know it’s on chromosome 11, we have solved a mystery,” said Professor Benjamin Oldroyd from the University of Sydney.
The study outlines how male bees are essentially useless to them, so the gene allows worker bees to produce females who get the work done. The only role of male bees in many honey bee species is reproduction, so without that, well…sorry fellas, evolution may deem you unnecessary.
Weeding out males does lead to some problems though. Professor Benjamin Oldroyd says that, “instead of being a cooperative society, Cape Honey Bee Colonies are riven with conflict because any worker can be genetically reincarnated as the next queen,” in the study’s announcement. “When a colony loses its queen the workers fight and compete to be the mother of the next queen.”
There could be biodiversity and immune system deficiency over time that brings males back to the table.
Check out this photo of worker bees sabotaging a queen cell that they don’t agree with:
This is the only known bee to have this asexuality gene.
Learn more here.
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