March 25, 2005
Little known bee fact. Bees, those members of the genus Bombus, are often held up as models of discipline and order--worker bees (sexually undeveloped females), drones (fertile males), and a queen all working in perfect harmony each in it's caste working productively until the hive gets overcrowded and the old queen flies off with some drones to establish a new one, while the remaining bees raise multiple queens waiting for them to hatch and then fight to the death to establish a new ruler. And generally, generation after generation, that's how it works.
But sometimes, very rarely, something goes awry. A group of workers will surround the queen denying her food. Eventually one will sting her, then the others join in until, inevitably, she succumbs. Workers try to mate drones. The brood is killed off one by one and work on the hive ceases as chaos and fratricide become the order of the day. There are no survivors of this breakdown of social order. It is said other bees will avoid recolonizing the broken hives for years to come.