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Drone story 1

The drone brood (male bees) is on the increase at this time of year. About 10% of the cells are now occupied by drone larvae like these two and usually positioned towards the outside of the brood nest, surrounding the worker cells. You can spot them immediately by the elongated raised sides and the larger diameter (6mm across compared to 5mm for workers) to take the much fatter drones. The size of the cell is what determines whether the Queen fertilises the egg as she lays it to give a worker or not to give a drone. This quirk of social insect reproduction means that workers are related 50% to the queen and drones 100%. The consequences of this system (haplodiploidy) are complex but are the basis of the usual explanation of the extreme altruism in social insects and the worker sterility - I can explain if anyone is interested :-)

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Taken on May 23, 2005