Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 21
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Question about Queens

    Why is there only one queen in a bee colony? I'm not looking for an answer like "because if there were two, they would have fought to the death." The question is: why do they fight to the death? Why must there be only one? What evolutionary advantage does it give to the colony? Why is it better for a colony to only have one member laying eggs than having two doing the same? As far as I can tell, the queen doesn't actually control the hive's activities (except for making sure she's the only one). According to the bee researchers, the entire colony makes decisions collectively about swarming, foraging, and other things (even about supersedure, when to replace the old queen with a new one). So if the only function of the queen is to lay eggs, why only one?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,308

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Sometimes, if you manage carefully, you can manage to have a huge colony with two queens - mother and daughter. It has been reported in the literature.

    But to answer your question more specifically, it is nature's way of perpetuating the species. Whether you accept evolution or the hand of a Creator, or combination thereof, for one of those mysterious reasons, it was decided that a second queen enables the colony to split, thus establishing two colonies (parent and child, if you will). Thus if something happens to one, the other might survive, ensuring perpetuation of the species. Not all of your eggs in one basket, as it were. If both survive, the following year they split again, thus four colonies.... in nature it is a matter of numbers.... So with honeybees, the more colonies there are, the greater the probability the species survives.

    There was an article in our newspaper this past week about a faun that was found, in ill health, overloaded with ticks. I might have this backwards, (probably do!) but the article quoted an expert that 60% of the fauns die each year. Only 40% mature. So for the species to survive, you have to have a high birth rate. The hive swarming is the birth of a new hive.

    Another factor would be space. A prolific queen can lay 1,000 to 2,000 eggs a day. A good queen could thus, in nature, fill up available space, lounge around for a while, then get to work again... There just would not be enough room, physically, in a natural hive (tree hollow, or wherever) to accomodate two normal laying queens.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    The nature of a specie is for the strongest to survive. Competition. Second fiddle is not acceptable. Male Lions will kill the existing cubs in a pride takeover so the females will come into heat. All so they can have their genes continue. Bees aren't Lions, but nature is nature.JMHO

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    2,493

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by silverberry View Post
    Why is there only one queen in a bee colony?
    Same reason you can only have one wife, lady friend (at a time). (or at least until the two meet!)
    http://OxaVap.com Your source for the Varrox Mite Killing
    OA Vaporizer "One of the highest ranked" by R. Oliver

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick 1456 View Post
    The nature of a specie is for the strongest to survive. Competition. Second fiddle is not acceptable. Male Lions will kill the existing cubs in a pride takeover so the females will come into heat. All so they can have their genes continue. Bees aren't Lions, but nature is nature.JMHO
    The question is what helps to continue their genes. There are many examples in nature when cooperation helps. This may be even true for bees: consider the origin of the worker bee sexual caste. Some recent research has showed that genetic diversity in a hive pays off: the more drones a queen has mated with, the higher the chance of survival of the colony. So wouldn't having two queens create an even greater diversity--and therefore, more of their descendants would survive and perpetuate their genes, and so on, eventually creating the situation when every colony is like that? I would rather buy StevenG's argument about the space constraints, given the average size of naturally occurring nesting cavities.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Yes,
    The queen mates with multiple drones and gives the genetic diversity. Dual queens does happen. Supercedure, and I have heard of rare cases where they co exist, but it, to my understanding, is not the norm. Open air colonies only have one queen. Hives that inhabit large spaces, and there are some huge ones, still only have one queen. Perhaps my argument/example was not a good one But after how many thousands of years, bees still normally only have one queen. I would venture next into they queen pheromone argument. The queen does control they hive through that chemical existence. The bees need it, have to have it, and apparently from one source, or pandemonium begins. Why?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    There is no answer to your question at this point in time. There are things in this universe that we will never understand or know the answers to, at least in our lifetimes, so my theory is just to enjoy the advantages they provide, such as, you only have to locate one queen per hive...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Thank you,
    I wanted to go that route, but I thought I might stir the pot one more time

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick 1456 View Post
    I would venture next into they queen pheromone argument. The queen does control they hive through that chemical existence. The bees need it, have to have it, and apparently from one source, or pandemonium begins. Why?
    From what I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong), the queen pheromone merely informs the other bees of the queen's existence, so that they don't create a second queen by mistake or rush to create an emergency queen or abandon a swarm to return to the paternal hive if the queen is lost, and the like. But all the major decisions are actually made by the hive collectively. So it doesn't resolve the question about why there can be only one: the pheromone exists to make sure there is only one, but it does not explain why.

    I'm afraid that SantaFeBeek may have the right of it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    It may be interesting to investigate the details of those rare cases when two queens do coexist. Nothing can illuminate a process better than looking at the conditions under which it breaks down. So have you seen such cases? Anyone? What was peculiar about them?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    "Merely informs the bees" IMHO, it is more complicated. Major decisions are made by the hive, based on "THE" queen. The pheromones are the basis. It maters not, the bees support one queen

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by silverberry View Post
    It may be interesting to investigate the details of those rare cases when two queens do coexist. Nothing can illuminate a process better than looking at the conditions under which it breaks down. So have you seen such cases? Anyone? What was peculiar about them?
    Well, for example: the decision on the best nesting site is debated by the scout bees waggle-dancing on the surface of the swarm. Even the fact that a consensus is reached is sensed by them, and not by the queen. The presence of the queen is necessary for the swarm not to disperse, but that's about it. The queen doesn't get a vote on the best site.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Apples and oranges

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    The majority of scientific thought is all still theory. There is so much that we don't know or understand that it is better to accept the fact that we really "know" very little in the scope of things.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Than you We was speculating. I thought

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM, USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    By all means, speculate on!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    10,159

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by silverberry View Post
    why only one?
    Why is there only one queen or king of England?

    I know it is answering a question with a question. But think about trying to satisfy two people, three people, three hundred people, three thousand people. Can you see where I am going with this? Do you know anybody that was unhappy with one wife and more happy with three wives, for a long period of time, not just a week end? Has it been tried? I am sure it has but does it work in the long run? Nature fixes what doesn't work and apparently 5 queens in one hive doesn't work in the long run. And even though there are instances of multiple wives in a family unit that really doesn't work in the long run either.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Where two(or more?) queens are co-existing the older queens pheromones are weaker so that she is not a perceived threat to the younger queen. These are usually mother/daughter queens so the pheromones may even be similar enough to allow co-existance.
    I think I read that up to 20% of colonies may have 2 queens.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick 1456 View Post
    Apples and oranges
    Do you mean the swarm-decision comparison or the queen/king of England comparison? If the former, well... my point is: is there an example of a function in a hive for which a sole individual is absolutely necessary? At first, I thought: so, the scouts advertize the better sites more vigorously, recruit more other scouts, yadda yadda... eventually all the hive is dancing for a single site (in most cases). But since each bee can only communicate with its immediate neighbors, how does the hive know that a consensus is reached? No bee has the global picture, so who gives a signal to fly to the new home? So I thought: here's an example of a situation where a single chosen individual is needed to give a signal. But no! It turns out that the scouts themselves decide to fly, through a process based on thresholds (and there were cases when a single swarm tried, unsuccessfully, to flow in different directions if the thresholds for two different good sites were reached). So if that's not it, then what in the world could be the function that could ONLY be performed by a single individual? It does look like the only purpose of the queen is to lay eggs. But two can lay, as well. So what are we missing?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sharon, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    10

    Default Re: Question about Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by SantaFeBeek View Post
    The majority of scientific thought is all still theory. There is so much that we don't know or understand that it is better to accept the fact that we really "know" very little in the scope of things.
    Well, yeah. But I was hoping we had an answer to that one, at least.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads