Born to bee royal: Scientists find that queens and workers have their destinies in their cells


Larger than life: A queen bee surrounded by worker bees. Scientists found that their destines are pre-determined

The caste system which sees a honey bee either become a queen or a mere worker is pre-determined in larvae before they are born, researchers have found.

Previously, it was thought that queens were 'chosen' from among normal larvae and 'fed' royal jelly to 'crown' them queen. Royal jelly is a protein-rich secretion sometimes eaten by humans as health supplement.

But it seems that as newly-hatched bees lie worm-like in their hive during the early stages of life, their destiny is already mapped out.

Short life span: Worker bees live for six to seven weeks while the queen lives for between one and two years

Scientists from China and Ethiopia have been studying the honey bees and looked at proteins inside the cells of their larvae.

Scientist Jianke Li of China and colleagues found there are major differences, during the early stages of life, in the activity of proteins in the mitochondria – the structures that produce energy for cells - between those bees destined for a royal existence, and those born for the humdrum life of a drone.

The differences included changes in the amounts of protein produced in cells and how the proteins acted.

source: dailymail