Hail to The Queens

Queen bees and ants have earned their rightful place at the top. For bee species, the queens live for up to five years, unlike workers who only have a total lifespan of several weeks. On the other hand, queen ants sit on the throne for about 30 years. Workers get significantly less time to live—only one to three years.

Another characteristic that differentiates queens from worker bees and ants is fertility. Queen bees and ants lay hundreds of thousands of eggs, while workers are sterile. Interestingly, queens and workers share the same DNA. So why does it appear like they do not?

Queen Bee

Image source: Australian National University

Taking Reproductive Roles Seriously

The largest in the colony, the queen bee, is the only female with fully developed ovaries. She is the mother of practically all bees in the hive. With the ability to lay more than 1,500 eggs a day at 30-second intervals, it comes with the territory.

Unlike queen bees, queen ants only need to mate once in their lives. She then stores a lifetime supply of sperm in a sac, which she uses to lay thousands of eggs throughout her lifespan. If the temperature is warm enough, some queen ants in mature colonies can produce up to 1,000 offspring a day for many years.

Do They Have Absolute Control?

It is clear that bees and ants belong to a matriarchal society. While queens do not have complete authority over everyone, they are still sustained and supported by the workers. They also exercise control over workers through pheromone manipulation.

Research points to DNA methylation, a type of chemical modification, is behind what dictates the biological function of an ant or bee. The study was led by a biologist in the Australian National University Research School of Biology.

There is evidence suggesting that “workers exposed to pheromones tag tag their DNA with methylation differently, which might suppress queenly characteristics in the workers.” Apparently, worker bees and ants can begin laying eggs upon deprivation of the queen’s pheromones.

While these pests have a right to breed, you don’t want them multiplying their population by thousands right where you live. Contact Masters Pest Control Sydney on (02) 8007 4666 for assistance on getting rid of pests.

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