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The contradictions in the sexuality of bees...


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  • The contradictions in the sexuality of bees...

    I am very interested in bumblebees, but am surprised and confused by the apparent contradiction around the factors which determine the gender of their offspring.

    My understanding is that if a Queen bumblebee lays an unfertilised egg, it will produce a male, but if she fertilises the egg by introducing the sperm she retained from mating, then the resultant offspring would be female. I would have thought the reverse would be the case, and that it would be the introduction of the male sperm that would produce a male, and not the other way round.

    Could anyone explain for me, please, how this would be the case?

  • #2
    Your confusion arises from your assumption that sex determination in bees is the same as it is in humans.
    Only mammals use the X/Y system. Even other vertebrates don't, much less invertebrates.
    In the case of bees, males are haploid - they have only a single set of chromosomes. Females, on the other hand, are diploid, possessing a proper double set of chromosomes.
    Thus, males can be produced from unfertilised eggs produced by the queen, whereas females require fertilisation.


    • #3
      Many thanks for explaining this. Ameno. I had no idea that this was the case, and I’m grateful for your help. Thank you again.


      • #4
        Interesting ameno -thanks!
        "Nicos, Queen of Gooooogle" and... GYO's own Miss Marple


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