I remain confused about the genetics mechanisms of bee reproduction.
From what I have read there seems to be male bees (drones) that mate with a virgin queen (female) bee. The female (queen) then lays fertile eggs. Some eggs develop into female bees (nurse bees--->worker bees) which I have read are from fertilized eggs but they themselves remain sterile. Then to confuse things I see posts about workers (sterile female bees) laying eggs but I am not certain what type of bee these eggs develop into. Then there are male bees (drones) that are fertile but somewhere I read that they are from unfertilized queen eggs...this seems quite odd to me.
So...if the workers are sterile what is the purpose of their laying eggs at all...if they are sterile then one would expect their eggs would never hatch (and I take it they don't mate with drones). Next if the Queen is mated and stores drone sperm does she actually make a decision as to whether her eggs will be covered by the stored sperm to produce workers or not covered by stored sperm to produce drones. What genetically determines workers to always be sterile?
Does bee reproductive genetics have any similarity to the mammalian version? If so if the Queen eggs that produce drones aren't fertilized where does the male determining gene come from? If drones are essentially genetic clones of the queen how can they be male and fertile?
What determines if a female egg/sperm combination from a queen will be a sterile worker or a fertile queen? I realize that when the hive is working at producing a queen that the environment in which the egg develops is managed differently by the bees but the DNA chromosome coding would be there when the egg is laid. Does the manner in which the egg/larva is managed affect gene expression after the egg has been deposited in the cell.
In mammals the Y chromosome determines if the offspring will be male and that chromosome comes from the male (sperm). If drones are unfertilized eggs..how are they becoming male..and fertile male at that..with no male chromosome input and only the female set of chromosomes?
Is there a site that explains this? Perhaps I haven't chosen appropriate search terms as I am not finding this information.
If egg development conditions can affect gene expression in bees then manipulation of the developmental environment would open up a huge area of genetic manipulation.
Am I the only one that finds this both interesting and confusing?