Physiology of drones and workers

A colony invests a lot of resources into the rearing and maintenance of a certain number of drones during the reproduction period (Seeley, 2002). The drones are constructed for the single purpose of finding and mating with a queen. Their physiology reflects the intensive care they receive from workers, characterised by a reduction in such functions as the ability to collect and digest nectar and pollen, and by a reduction of the glands that produce jelly, enzymes and wax. Their body composition is specialised for containing and transferring large amounts of sperm and mucus, the latter having important functions in the mating process, one of which is to support the connection of drone and queen, and probably in the stimulation of oogenesis and oviposition. Their flight strategy is more risky than that of workers, as they carry only relatively small amounts of sugar solutions on their mating flights as well as small glycogen reserves, and as they are not providing themselves with nectar in the field like workers do.

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