1 Tahrcountry Musings: Queen Bees Control Sex of Young

Friday, November 16, 2007

Queen Bees Control Sex of Young

A new study shows that queen honey bees can choose the sex of their offspring. The young queen goes on a flight spree and stores the sperm she collects from multiple mating for the rest of her life. She uses it up bit by bit as she lays eggs. It has been shown that if the queen adds sperm to an egg, it will produce a female and if she withholds sperm, the egg will produce a male. But the workers control the type of eggs the queen lays. The queen lays eggs in a particular cell only if the cell is big enough to accommodate a male larva, which is bigger than a female one. So depending on the cells they build of each size, the workers can limit how many male offspring the queen produces. Katie Wharton and her team of entomologists at Michigan State University in East Lansing says that in spite of this drawback the queen can still tip the balance of the sex.If you are keen about details please refer to November/December issue of behavioural ecology.

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