What makes a Queen bee?
She is the only mother of her colony, of up to 60,000 off spring and a single mother at that!
Mating just once in her life in a joyous sexual union in the sky with up to 20 males, known as drones, who after flowing their seed into her tumble to the ground and die. For the drones if the mission is to mate a queen and then die, there could be worse fates…
The queen, once mated and laden with enough contrasting genetic semen to continue to lay for three years, flies back to her nest. In the darkness of her honey hive she will lay her fertilised eggs throughout spring and summer (up to 2000 a day) which are nursed with royal jelly, pollen and honey by her daughters (the workers). II find it extremely reassuring that this sisterhood is so focused on caring for the young as well as tending to everything else, multi-tasking is essential and something women know too well.
This image shows the difference in size between the female worker, with the queen (centre) and the stocky drone left. The queen bees abdomen is longer. She is a very elegant creature.
When I feel anxious (like the bee queen, I never stop for a moments rest) I take conscious breaths of gratitude, I breathe and I hum quietly and think of the queen and the colony. Her female off-spring, though not fertile themselves, will be involved in the flower courtship transporting the male pollen from the stamen of a flower to a female stigma flower of the same type. Thus flower intercourse helped by infertile female bees takes place.
These little sisters, will visit 100 of the same flower on one foraging mission and go out on 20 missions a day! .
20 missions x 100 flowers = 2000 flowers a day
During this time their mother queen is laying up to 2000 eggs a day too.
The multi-tasking mothers of today remind me of the Queen bee: Diligent, hard working, nurturing leaders.
The Queen bee also has a powerful, particular scent (pheromone), which keeps her colony of daughters and a few sons, unified and working collectively. These pheromones also keep her young daughters from wanting to lay eggs. Bizarrely worker bees can lay unfertilised eggs without a sexual act and produce male (drone) off-spring.
This is no good and can lead to the colonies collapse. The boys' job description is very limited, apart from mating they are unable to nurse unborn eggs as they are unable to produce royal jelly, needed to feed the baby bees.
Females do the work in the hive and forage out of the hive in the last two weeks of their little lives. THE COLONY is very much a matriarchal society.
Over the last 200 years the honey bee has been exploited and dominated mostly by men for the financial gain of honey production. The golden honey is still produced by the bees, but forced industrialised farming methods are employed for maximum yield. As well as mass bee pollination , thousands of hives (millions of bees) are sent in trucks to pollinate mono crops. No wonder our bees are suffering today.
Mother's day will somewhat be overshadowed by the global lock down. The queen will be busy in her hive and starting to lay now. Its a reassuring thought that that the cycle of live through nature continues.
As women let's believe in our power as leaders, nurturers, givers, Queen's and sisters. We must understand our connection to nature! To all sisters, mothers, daughters believe in your bee-autiful selves.