>I was giving a intro to beekeeping presentation today, and I was asked a question. How is it genetically possible for an unfertilized egg to produce any offspring? How can a laying worker lay any eggs that hatch and become a drone or any living creature, without being bred? The person that asked the question was a biology teacher. I didn't have a good answer, but I am looking for guidance.
Many insects and even some arachnids have similar reproductive models. In honey bees the sex determination is a particular allele. In a haploid (unfertilized egg) this always makes a male because there is not another to match with. The drones have only half of the genetics. In a diploid organism (such as most animals we know and honey bee workers and queens) there are a pair of genes for every kind of gene. In other words, if there is a color gene there are two of them and the dominant one is the one that gets expressed. But when reproduction takes place with a diploid organism, a haploid egg or sperm is created that gets one random set of those genes. So if there are two color genes and one is different from the other, the egg could get either color, but not both because it gets only one set of genes. In the case of a diploid organism, such as a honey bee drone, it gets the one and only set (there are not two sets) so all of the sperm from a given drone are identical to that drone.