We’ve still got plenty to learn about “the birds and the bees”. A close looker has revealed that some honeybees born partly male and partly female have up to four parents – and some of them have no mother at all.
In bees, unfertilised eggs develop into males, or drones, who seek out queens to mate with. Fertilised eggs usually develop into female workers.
However, queens mate with at least 10 males to produce new colony members, and more than one sperm enters each egg. In a few rare instances, individual bees can end up with some tissue derived from the fertilised egg, which is female, and some from extra sperm, which is male.
Sarah Aamidor and colleagues at the University of Sydney, Australia, studied 11 gynandromorph honeybees from a single colony to learn more about how these individuals develop.
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