Bird’s do it, Bees do it even- Wait?! How exactly do bees do it???
Well bees or to be more exact Honeybees “do it” mid flight, in a massive swarm and several endophallus’s get blown off.
Okay so that was pretty vague if intriguing and I can hear you begging for the gory details. Well unfortunately for you, exploding endophallus’s aside Honeybee mating isn’t as brutal as the red backed Australian Spider, y’know the one where females eat the males alive? Yeah that one. Still Honeybees put the drama in dramatic, with a single Queen bee garnering the attention of hundreds of male drones.
The Queen flies through the air followed by the males all competing to reach her and mate with her, it’s quite a sight to witness, hundreds of bees flying together desperate to ensure their genetic survival. If one of these male drones is lucky enough to reach the Queen and mate with her (his literal entire life’s purpose) what follows is explosive, yeah in the sexy sense. The male inserts his endophallus into the Queen and ejaculates, which often results in the tip of the endophallus exploding, which incidentally rips out his abdomen. Yeah… Ouch. Alas even the male drones who do not mate with the Queen die as they have been ejected from their nest and have failed their only purpose, to mate. ;_;
After mating several times during her only mating flight the Queen will have stored up to 100 million sperm in her oviducts. That’s 100 million potential bees, just waiting to become a male drone who seeks only to carry on his genes, or a female drone working to protect her fellow siblings (or more likely sisters, but that’s a whole different conversation on eusociality) or indeed a new Queen bee.
Bees are freakin’ cool and not just cause of the crazy sex shenanigans, but GENETICS. I’m only going to touch on this lightly, but maybe I’ll make a post in more detail if you want me too (I can get quite excited about bee genetics). The Queen bee can control the caste of her offspring, male drones are created from unfertilised eggs and so only contain one set of chromosomes which makes them haploid, it also means they only contain their mothers DNA, awesome right? Workers and Queens however are created from fertilised eggs and are diploid containing both their mother’s and their father’s DNA. This results in interesting interactions concerning eusocial systems and also makes bees fantastic to study from a genetics stand point as you can track their relatedness easily alongside mapping interesting genes using colonies.
Bees, girl, bees are awesome.