“I’ve been keeping bees since 1976, and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like it” https://t.co/5r5cHvfq3t
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) August 7, 2020
Beekeeper Joseph Zgurzynski found a very odd bee with big yellow eyes a couple of months ago. Photographer Annie O’Neill was there to document the bee, which showed features of both male and female bees. Scientists who studied the pictures determined this bee shows mosaic gynandromorphism, meaning it has both male DNA and female DNA throughout its body. How does that happen? You probably know a bit about genetics, reproduction, and mutations in humans and other mammals, but you can throw all that out the window when it comes to honeybees. Entomologist Natalie Boyle of Pennsylvania State University explains.
When a queen and a drone mate, their fertilized eggs only ever generate female bees. That’s because males are created from unfertilized eggs, which means they only have one set of chromosomes—those of the queen. As a result, male bees have no fathers or sons, but they do have grandfathers and grandsons.
“If you think about it for too long, you just wind up in a little bit of a mind pretzel,” says Boyle.
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