The Suitors of the Queen Honey Bee

The Virgin Queen honey bee flies around all the males during the mating ritual waiting for one to mate with her while in flight. When the first mate mounts the queen, he inserts what is known as his endophallus and of course deposits his semen. Even though, this should be an exciting adventure for the male, it ends drastically as when he pulls away from the queen, his endophallus is ripped from his body and stays inside the queen that he just fertiliz800px-Apis_florea_nest_closeup2ed. The next daring male removes the last male bee’s parts and does the same exact thing.

Each male that mates with the queen dies after he leaves her fertilized. The worst part of all is that if they can fertilize the queen and stay intact, they are no longer allowed to be part of the hive as he served the queen and she no longer needs his services.

The queen bee mates in her early life during that one mating flight. She has the ability to hold 10 million sperm in what is known as her oviducts. In the area of the queen is another section known as the spematheca that will hold 5 to 6 million sperm which she uses a few at a time to fertilize eggs during her life span. When the queen runs out of sperm, another queen will take her place and start her own colony of bees.

What is really amazing is that the queen can choose what sex her babies will be from drones if they are not fertilized to female workers and queens if they are fertilized. Female worker bees are not capable of mating but do lay eggs that will only be male bees. The length of time for the eggs to become adult male bees is 24 days, worker bees take 21 days, and queens only take 16 days.