honey-bee

“When a male honey bee climaxes during sex, his testicles explode and he dies.”

This shocking sentence was an eye-opener. First thought, this can’t be true. Second thought, if it is true, do they just avoid sex altogether?

Turns out, it is true. The male honey bee, also known as a drone, exists solely to mate with the queen. They don’t take that job lightly either. Honey bee mating takes place away from the bee colony at sites known as “congregation areas”. These places are specific locations where the drones wait for the queen’s arrival. Around 10-40 meters (30-130 feet) above ground, the mating areas for the colony rarely change.

When the queen flies out in search of a mate the male bees compete for her. Swarming around her as she flies the lucky drone who grasps the queen has his way with her. The drone everts his penis (turns it inside out) and inserts it tightly into the queens reproductive tract.

A single drone who mates with the queen, mates for less than 5 seconds.

Mating Bees

“Once the endophallus has been everted, the drone is paralyzed, flipping backwards as he ejaculates. The process of ejaculation is explosive semen is blasted through the queen’s sting chamber, and into the oviduct. The process is sometimes audible to the human ear, akin to a ‘popping’ sound. The ejaculation is so powerful that it ruptures the endophallus, disconnecting the drone from the queen. The bulb of the endophallus is broken off inside of the queen during mating, so drones only mate once, and die shortly after. The leftover penis remaining in the queen’s vagina is referred to as the “mating sign”. The plug will not prevent the next drone from mating with the same queen, but may prevent semen from flowing out of the vagina.”

Now what happens to the drones who survive mating season? They are kicked out of the hive by the worker bees (females). Male honey bees do not have stingers so cannot protect the colony, nor do they provide in any other way. To avoid taking care of them through the winter season, they are booted out. Eventually they either starve or die a weather related death.

Bee

What are your thoughts on the love story between the honey bees? Had you already heard it before? Did you find it interesting? Let us know in the comments below!

PS. Read more about honey bees herehere and here.

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