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    Who Are The Queen Slayers In The Beekeeper?

    I just watched Jason Statham’s “The Beekeeper” and I feel the need to explain the queen slayers who are worker bees that assassinate their queens. There’s a reason for it.


    In Jason Statham’s new movie, The Beekeeper, reference was made about Queen Slayers which are bees that assassinate the queen if she produces defective offsprings. Here’s an explanation. I will take my time to break it down, so, this might be a tad lengthy.

    Bees live in colony. In their colonies, we have the queen who is the leader and mother of majority of them in the colony. Then comes the workers who are all female. Finally, we have the drones which are male bees. Drones (male) make up about 10-15% of the hive population while workers (females) make up about 85-90%.

    Drones don’t work in the hive. Their only role is to go out and mate with new queens. About six days after emerging, drones begin to leave the hive and can fly for about four hours, waiting for the queen to mate. When their energy is used up, they return to the hive to refuel. They’re allowed in with no questions. Just imagine this scenario, a man that gets up in the morning without doing anything. He only eats the food you prepared with your hard earned money and goes out to look for women. When he’s hungry, he comes back home to eat again before going. This is why you can have too many drones in a hive. They consume resources without contributing to it.

    If the drone is not benefitting the hive feeding it, what is now the need for it. The answer is genetic diversity. One day, this hive too will produce a new queen who will need drones from other colonies to mate with. So, you basically supply drones to other hives and they supply to you too. Without drones mating the queen, the queen cannot produce females and without females (workers) and without workers, the colony will die off. So, in a nutshell, the drones are needed but not too much.

    Now, back to the queen. If she wants to produce a female (worker) bee, she will fertilize the egg before laying. But if she want to produce a male (drone), she lays unfertilized egg. This means female bees are diploid and they contains two alleles per gene while males are haploid, containing only one allele since they technically have no father. The gene that determines their sex is called the complementary sex determination (CSD) gene. If a CSD gene has two alleles, coming from a fertilized egg, the bee develops into a female. If the gene has just one allele, coming from an unfertilized egg, the bee develops into a male. Stay with me please, we are going to the main part.

    If a new queen from a hive now goes out to mate, there is an unfortunate, though rare, scenario where she mates with a drone carrying a CSD allele matching hers. This similarity in allele will cause half of all the eggs she fertilized, which are supposed to turn out female, to come out as drones. You know, it’s like you present two different copies of a document but the machine misread them as one because they look very similar. So, the CSD gene will be read as if only hers is there and that’s why she will be producing half males.

    Now, this is a problem for the hive. The number of female who work have reduced and the number of males who only eat are now more than those who provide. Consumption has exceeded production. Once these queen slayers smell the “strange drones” through the special odour they give off, they swing into action to correct the anomaly. Since the queen can not repair or correct what’s happening as they’re not deliberate, the only way is to remove her and install new queen. That’s why they have to k!ll her and start feeding some of the larva a royal jelly which turns them into queens.

    I hope I’ve been able to explain it in a way that you understand?

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