Bee’s knees. And other bits, too.

There are 2 main types of bee: sterile workers (drones) and queens. They are apparently hatched without difference and for a while at least they are fed the same stuff: Royal Jelly. Drones don’t eat this stuff for long, moving instead to a mix of pollen and nectar.

queenie.jpg

But for queens the rationing of this super-food doesn’t stop and, as a result, they become much larger and, importantly, reproductively capable.

Now, a study has discovered a possible mechanism that is triggered by the proteins found in royal jelly. Specifically, the researchers discovered that a substance contained in royal jelly stimulates the expression of a whole range of genes that result in producing a queen from regular bee larvae.

More commentary at Wired’s (rapidly becoming my favourite) science blog here.

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