Fathers' Day at the Hive
Beatrice the bee's family tree
So here we are in June. Fathers’ Day is upon us. Notice that I specify the holiday with the plural form of “father”. I believe that this is a day for all fathers, not just one. I’m a father. I have two kids. Their relationship to me is pretty clear. I’m their dad. My wife is their mom. Straightforward. This is not so much the case with honey bees.
If you read anything I write here, you will know I’m pretty obsessed with bees. I’ve written a couple of articles about how bees forage and how they see the world. The whole concept of a beehive and bee behavior also shows up big time in my second novel. Suffice to say – I like bees. What does that have to do with Fathers’ Day, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did. You see, some bees don’t even have fathers. No, I’m not talking about broken bee homes. I’m talking about bees that biologically have only one parent – a mother. But their mother has both a father and a mother. True. Weird, but true.
Each beehive has one fertile female – a queen. The queen secretes chemicals that suppress reproductive maturity in the other females in the hive. These repressed ladies are all worker bees. They, as the name implies, do pretty much everything needed to keep the hive alive. Everything, that is, except father the next generation. That task falls to the drones. Drones do pretty much nothing, in stark contrast to the “pretty much everything” covered by the workers. All drones are males. They hang out in the hive, taking up space and food, until a new queen appears on the scene. She arrives with an explosion of pheromones that wakes the drones from their state of general worthlessness and sends them into a frenzied attempt to mate with the queen.
It doesn’t end well for the drones that make the grade with the queen. She allows numerous suitors to mate with her, collecting their sperm for later use. The act of their donation inflicts a mortal condition upon the drones and they immediately fall to the ground and die. It’s an exit with a blaze of glory for these guys after a lifetime of sofa surfing.
After the queen is finished collecting the genetic material from the drones, she returns to the hive. She has enough sperm stored to last her entire lifetime as she works to repopulate the hive.
Here’s where it gets weird.
If the queen wants an egg to grow into a female worker (or possibly a replacement queen) she applies fertilization donated by one of her dates from that one wild night and plunks the egg into a cell in the hive. If she decides an egg should be one of the single-minded and faceless male drones, she simply lays the egg into a cell with no fertilization. That’s right. Male honey bees come from unfertilized eggs. They are essentially clones of their mother, but they are male.
So, female bees have mothers (queens) and fathers (drones.) Males bees have mothers and no fathers, but they do have grandfathers. (See the picture above if you need a visual aid. This is strange stuff.) As you can imagine, this could lead to some unusual conversations in the hive during June.
“What’re you getting your old man for Fathers’ Day, Bob?” asked Billy.
“Uh, what’s Fathers’ Day?”
“Beatrice told me about it the other day. I caught her coming in from a forage.”
“Billy, dude. Why are you always hanging around with her? You know she’s not a queen. There’s no future in that relationship.”
“It’s all about sex with you, isn’t it, Bob. You’re such a pig.”
“Anyway. Beatrice told me all about it,” Billy continued. “It’s a day when everyone gives stuff to their fathers and shows appreciation for them.”
“Well then,” Bob droned, “I’m off the hook. So are you.”
“What do you mean?” Billy asked.
“Man, you are dumb. That cute little worker has you flummoxed.”
“What do you mean?” quizzed Billy.
“We don’t have fathers. We only have Mom. You know, the queen?” Bob gave Billy a look that expressed both exasperation and amusement at his hive-mate’s naivete.
“But I was going to go Fathers’ Day gift shopping with Beatrice. Now what?” Billy’s bee shoulders slumped, and he emitted a faint and disheartened buzz.
Bob draped an antenna around his friend’s head. “Yeah, now what? And by the way, how does Beatrice even know who her father was? You know what the mating flight is like. Any drone in the hive could’ve been her dad. And, you’ve heard the stories. No one who gets lucky on that flight lives to tell about it. Ha-ha! I thought you were dumb, but it sounds like your little worker girlfriend is just as stupid as you are!”
Yeah, I know that kind of conversation never happens, but it’s fun to imagine. Also, let me leave you with one more mind-bending fact. If you look at the parentage of any given bee in the hive, the number of family members at any level of their family tree is a Fibonacci number. Yes, it is. If you didn’t read my article on the Fibonacci sequence, now would be a good time to do that. Here’s a link …
The Fibonacci pattern continues no matter how many generations to climb up the tree. It’s amazing.
This article was written by Tilmer Wright, Jr. Tilmer is an IT professional with over thirty years of experience wrestling with technology. He’s also a proud member of the Authors Guild of Tennessee. His second novel, The Bit Dance is a cautionary tale about what can happen when technology, combined with the logic behind a honey beehive, runs away from its creators. You can find links to Tilmer’s books at the following location: https://www.amazon.com/Tilmer-Wright/e/B00DVKGG4K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_sc...
His author information website is here: http://www.tilmerwrightjr.com/
The City of Plainview hosted a ribbon cutting to mark the Grand Opening of the Dollar General Store at 1900 Tazewell Pike. Mayor Gary Chandler welcomed the crowd and thanked all who made this day possible. Mayor Chandler stated that Plainview is a growing community of caring individuals and that the city will continue to strive to “meet the needs of our citizens”.
Summer is in full swing at the Union County Farmers Market. The market is located in Wilson Park and open on Saturdays from 10am – 1pm. Our new Saturday hours allow our farmers to harvest early on Saturday morning bringing you the freshest possible produce. We hope the later hours will also encourage you to take advantage of the food trucks that are joining us! Enjoy a snack, breakfast or lunch.
A few days ago I had just risen from my chair to go to the great room for a cup of coffee. I really stood up and took notice, stopping dead in my tracks. There came a sudden crack of lightning with a deafening roar of thunder. All at the same time. That was not only close, it had to be right on top of us. My immediate worry was if there was any damage.
Being old has its disadvantages, but something I’m glad it allowed me to witness (at age 15) was the first moon landing and walk that occurred 50 years ago this month. It was one of those moments you remember exactly. In my case it was at my boyhood home in Middlesboro, Kentucky at 10:30 on a Sunday night. Me and my dad (mom was out of town) sat there watching a small black and white television totally mesmerized as these two guys walking around on another world. I remember lots of goosebumps and feeling so happy (I was a bona fide science geek by then).
I have always liked red table grapes, but have previously looked in vain for a way to cook them. A few years ago our church group took a trip up to Cumberland Falls in Kentucky. While there, we had lunch at their tearoom. Grape Salad was on the menu. It was delicious and new to all of us. We asked for the recipe. The one they gave us didn't turn out at all like the tasty salad we had there. Don't you hate that? When someone gives you a recipe and its not quite like their dish.
Enthusiasts from around the world traveled to spectate the picturesque landscapes of unique blooms at the Twentieth Annual Oakes Daylily Bloom Festival on Friday and Saturday June 28 and 29. The weather was usual for East Tennessee’s late June days, very hot and muggy, but the temperatures did not slow down the masses of guests attending.
On June 29, Main Street exploded with color. Union County Platinum Athletics hosted a Paint Party to youths and families of the community. The children, as well as the children at heart, excessively enjoyed a paint slip-n-slide, shaving cream twister, canvas painting with squirt bottles, water balloon fight, and an over the top paint war. The paint war is exactly that, a war, everyone throws powder paint at everyone who came for a fun mess of a time, creating a beautiful, colorful rainbow mess.
At the Union County Historical Society Meeting on Sunday, July 21, at 2:30 at the UC Museum, Bill Landry of Heartland Series fame will share stories from his new book, WHEN the WEST was TENNESSEE. Lisa Oakley will relate information on the East Tennessee History Center's new exhibit, “Mountain Dew”.
A class for Tennessee's divorcing parents. Held in Union County on the last Monday each month. Preregistration required at 865-992-8038 or email@example.com
Moore about the program at https://extension.tennessee.edu/Union/Pages/FCS-Co-Parenting.aspx
Enjoy a day of family-friendly fun! Children can compete in fun contests like "corniest joke," "fastest corn eater," and "fastest corn shucking." There will be door prizes and live music. Local vendors may sell corn products at no cost to them. In addition to corn-related shopping, local produce and craft vendors will be at the farmers market. There will be games, history exhibits, and fun demonstrations for everyone. We'll see you there!
This will be a simple self serve buffet. It will include Buttered Grits (cheese optional), Fresh- Baked Banana Muffins, Toast with homemade Strawberry and Fig Preserves, Fresh Fruit Salad, and Quiche Florentine. We will serve Orange Juice, Milk, Tea, and Coffee to drink.
Jerry Lynn Hubbs, Jr.-age 46 of Knoxville passed away Thursday, July 11, 2019 at his home following a brief battle with cancer. He was a member of Fairview Baptist Church, Luttrell. Preceded in death by father, Jerry Lynn Hubbs, Sr.; mother, Joyce Bailey Cline; grandparents, Frank and Mary Bailey; granddaughter, Riley Hubbs.
Reverend Luther Vineyard Cox – age 93 of Maynardville, went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 peacefully at home with his family by his side. He was a lifelong member and former pastor of Cedar Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Luther was retired from Dempster Brothers and was a United States Army Veteran serving in World II.
Lowell Edward George, Sr., age 81 of Knoxville went home to be with the Lord on Friday, July 5, 2019 at 11:05 am with his family surrounding him. He was a longtime member of Central Baptist Church, Fountain City and lifelong resident of Knoxville. He was greatly loved by his family and all who knew him and was a father figure to many. Lowell is preceded in death by mother and father Eva and Tom Newberry.
Samuel “Sam” E. Hampton, age 70, formerly of Beckley, WV, passed away peacefully at home in Knoxville, TN on Thursday, July 4, 2019. He loved football and was an avid fan of the Cleveland Browns. He was also a lover of animals.
Survived by his wife of 46 years, Sharron Hampton and daughter Jennifer and her husband John Morris.
A service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 7, 2019 at Mynatt Funeral Home Fountain City Chapel with Minister Brad Hood officiating.
Clarence Henegar, age 85, lifelong resident of Knoxville, went to be with the Lord on July 3, 2019. He was a member of Salem Baptist Church for 50 years, and served as a deacon for 40 years. He was a graduate of Central High School, and went on to graduate from Cooper Institute. He retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 32 years of service. In his younger years he enjoyed bowling, and was an avid golfer. He was very well known in the dancing community. As a young man he enjoyed square dancing, and in later years, ballroom and country dancing.
Donald L. Fowler, age 80, of Knoxville passed away Tuesday, July 2, 2019. He enjoyed spending time with his family and eating out. He is preceded in death by wife of 26 years Carol Fowler, parents; Hugh & Hester Fowler, brothers; Albert, Billy, Glenn and James, and by dog Peanut. He is survived by son Keith Fowler, brother Wilbur Fowler of Springfield, Tennessee and many nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends from 2:00pm-4:00pm on Saturday, July 6, 2019 at Grove Heights Baptist Church (818 Frank Street Knoxville, TN). A service will follow at 4:00pm with Rev.
Lois Ann Lee – age 67 of Maynardville, went to be with the Lord on July 2, 2019.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Wayne Lee; parents, Clarence and Dorothy Effler; sister, Linda Sexton; brothers, Bobby and Charlie Effler. Lois is survived by her daughter, Sheila (Kenneth) Lawler; son, Bobby (Tammy) Tharp; several grandchildren and great grandchildren; sisters, Emma (Bill) Collins, Karen (Randy) Chamberlain and Gerri (Mark) Ford; brother, Sandy (Peggy) Effler; and a host of loving nieces and nephews and other family members.
Mickie D. Faulkner-age 43 of Corryton passed away Tuesday morning, July 2, 2019 at her home with her family by her side. She was a member of True Life Ministries Church. She was a loving and selfless person who loved to make others smile and be happy. She was preceded in death by father, George Lee Poindexter; mother, Anna B. Collins; sister, Lisa Poindexter.
Gene Autrey Ford – age 75 of Luttrell, passed away Thursday, June 27, 2019. He was a member of Piney Grove Baptist Church, Karns. Gene was a military veteran and a retired electrician, IBEW Local 760.