Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Birds and the Bees


Yes, it's Spring and the young hearts fancy turns to love. Here is something I wrote a few years a go on the topic. I dedicate it to TH and Jaggy.

It is often said that people do not become beekeepers, they are born beekeepers. Evidence of this comes from my friend, Norm. He once told me that as a lad his father sat him down to tell him the story of the “Birds and the Bees.” After listening patiently to the half hour explanation, Norm was dismissed to tend to his chores after his father finished his oration of the finer high-points of the facts of life. Norm went about his chores wondering why his father called it the Story of the Birds and the Bees, yet he never once mentioned the bees.

I assured Norm that it was better that he didn’t mention the bees. Had his father told Norm about the sexuality of the honey bee, Norm may have been put to the idea of procreation forever. There are no romantic notions when honey bees mate.

Six days after the drone, (the male honey bee) emerges as an adult; he will take flight and congregate with other drones high in the air or in the tree canopy near the honey bee colony.

Five to ten days after a virgin queen emerges as an adult, she will fly to where the drones congregate and she will mate with one of them. The drone has enormous eyes that are designed to spot the queen in flight. The queen also puts out a mating scent to attract the drones.

The drone flies and joins the queen by clasping her. He inserts his sexual apparatus into her and then he falls back. Breaking away and parting with his sexual organs; the drone falls to the ground and dies. The queen flies back to the hive and absorbs all the sperm from the drone, and then discards the apparatus the drone gave his life to share with her.

The queen will repeat this mating ritual with up to twenty drones over the next several days. In each instance of successful mating the drone is doomed. The queen mixes all the sperm together in an organ called the spermatheaca. This reservoir of sperm will supply her for the rest of her life, which can be four years.
In human terms this could be viewed as promiscuity that results in immediate death for the male participants. If this isn’t bad enough, consider the fact that if the queen happens to mate with drones from her colony, she is mating with a brother or at least a cousin. Incest!

Had Norm heard the true story of how honeybees mate, his young mind may have reverse-anthropomorphized the situation, putting him off human procreation all together. So his father did well by not bringing honey bees into the lecture.

I know somewhere out there a budding young ornithologist may be reading this Birds and Bees story. She or he is probably thinking, “This writer never once mentioned the birds.”

11 Comments:

Blogger Beth said...

There's something about this mating ritual that appeals to me.
(Enough said.)

6:28 AM  
Blogger Jaggy said...

Awwww, thanks!

6:38 AM  
Blogger Jaggy said...

Oh, and thanks to you and the rest of the Astoria-area bloggers, I hit 10,000 today! :D

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Oooo, Ooooo I want to be a horny thologist! Me me!
And if that gang bangin' queen ain't bad enough, just think of the Vatican repercussions when the Pope finds out. You see, the Catholic church mandates that their candles be made of beeswax because of the virginity of the workers (females), hence their purity. Meanwhile, the queen is waddling around with a major mixed bag of sperm collected from a bunch of now castrated males.
Which leads me to the next question...is Beth hankering for a gang bang or perhaps would be happy with a jar on the night table containing souvenirs of a debauched night out. Either way, I am somehow comforted that society has not evolved into a matriarchy...at least not yet.
You see, the queen chooses the sex of the egg she is laying by either fertilizing it or not. An unfertilized egg develops into a drone and they are laid and hatched as needed and then they are expelled from the colony in preparation for winter. The up side is that they do no work and carry no stinger. Boy, am I glad that I am not an egg - you get laid once, you get eaten once and the only person to sit on your face is your mother.
Perhaps the reason that we did not evolve into a matriarchy is because most of the proponents quit shaving their underarms and nobody then could take them seriously? I wonder if Condoleeza shaves her pits??

8:07 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moosehead, you might want to read what you write before sending, or at least not write while impared. You may have insulted a fellow Canadian. You should be prepared for emasculation.

Jaggy, happy to send some business your way.

Beth, you have my blessing to have at him.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Trish said...

My FIL kept bees for many years and was a fountain of wisdom on all things bees. I find them absolutely fascinating. And I really enjoy their honey too. We used to have fresh honey right from the hive but now that he has retired from bee keeping we must look elsewhere...like the grocery store which is not quite as fun.

3:29 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Trish, there should be some farmers markets or health food store that sells "Local" "Raw" honey. Emphasis on local and raw. That will be the best and like what you're used to.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Hey, no offense taken at Moosehead's remark. I can see how he might have thought the "gang bang" aspect might be the apealing factor for me.
But, hell, no.
It's the fact the drone does the deed, loses his "apparatus" and drops dead afterwards that "tickles" my fancy...

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Well said beth...but what Guy neglected to add was that the drones did fall to the ground with a smile on their face. He was just wishing that you would rip me a new one - with wish defined as a desire having no energy. Yes yes - I pimped it in daffynitions!

12:12 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Eldest asked me how the guy half of the baby got into the woman's stomach and I looked at her and knew if I told her the truth, she just wouldn't believe me. It just sounds like I'm playing a joke on her. So I told her to ask again in a year.

6:29 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

If she's asking, she'll find out one way or another. Time to put on your big girl panties and give her the talk. Start it out by explaining cross pollination.

6:03 AM  

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