Queen slayers - fact check

I watched the Beekeeper movie today with Jason Statham. Mostly action, bad puns and well…Jason Statham…but I learnt something new about bees - that there’s a concept called “queen slayer”. But keen to fact check my understanding.

Apparently this is where the queen mates with a drone (one that’s related to her?) that causes her to product sterile drones.

My questions are:

  1. doesn’t the queen normally mate with multiple males so shouldn’t her chances of mating with a defective male be really low?
  2. does this occur amongst European honey bees or other species?

Ya gotta love a Jason movie!

Queens (APIs mellifera) mate with up to 50 drones, the record so far is 70. The text books will say 15 to 30, but that’s redundant since research at University of Florida in 2019. She generally flys to a different drone congregation area(DCA) than her brothers, though it’s still possible to mate with a brother.

The diversity of fathers in a colony is how it copes(and thrives) in a challenging environment.

Whenever the Queen lays an unacceptable egg or the larva doesn’t measure up, the nurses will eat it. Of course, inbred genetics only matters for the next generation so they have to be particularly vigilant with Queen and drone eggs. The odd defective worker that makes it to adulthood won’t affect the colony longevity. She’ll probably die young or bee booted out. If a defective drone makes it, the odds of him mating are practically zero. A defective queen probably won’t survive a fight with her superior sister.

Over millions of years, bees have worked out a reliable system. Our job is not to stuff it up.

Interestingly, Varroa has worked out how to be almost 100% inbred with no genetic deformity. They’re not pretty, though. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. Hang on, no eyes! Dang!

Mike

I gotta see that movie.

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Haha thanks Mike! Maybe that’ll be the next theme - Queen bees fight off.

Yes definitely worth watching for the Lols