No, it's not a hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodites often have a male or female presence. And they share the reproductive organs of both. This bee is not like that. It is a gynendromorph. A what? Well, an animal that has a riddle, one part is female and the other male. This is the only way to explain that there is a half male and a half female bee. A wonder of nature.
A surprising encounter
In spring 2018, entomologist Erin Krichilsky met the most confusing bee she had ever seen. On the right side of her body, the strong jaw was filled with small teeth typical of women. But his left side was much smaller and more sensitive, just like that of the men. And the legs on both sides were different. As if someone had cut out a being from each species and inserted it into a new combined animal. What was that?
When he looked through the microscope, he found that he had found something extraordinary. "It was like nothing I was used to." He states this in information published on the Smithsonian website. "It was a very exciting day."
This mysterious insect was recently described in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research. It is an extremely rare gynendromorph: an anatomically half male and half female animal. Because of their rarity in the wild, these gender-specific individuals are hardly understood. Nevertheless, researchers have documented gynendromorphs in living things ranging from butterflies and crustaceans to reptiles and birds.
Another gynendromorph from the same family was found in 1999. In particular, the male-female hybrid was of the species Megalopta genalis. In these two decades, STRI researchers have found no other examples in tens of thousands of bees collected.
The matriarchy of the bees
Generally bees, wasps and ants belonging to the Hymenoptera group. They live in matriarchal societies. Women "collect pollen, build nests, take care of young people," explains Adam Smith. He is a biologist at George Washington University. Its functions are compatible with these tasks. Strong jaws that can dig in wood. Thick, shaggy hind legs that can catch and transport pollen. A sharp, pointed sting for defense. Men "do nothing useful except copulation," says Smith, weakening his body.
A few years ago, another team of scientists analyzed the genes of various honey bee gynandromorphs. He discovered that the male-female hybrids were probably an accident.
In humans, two X chromosomes create a woman, while an X paired with a Y creates a man. Not bees. All fertilized eggs hatch into female bees. Unfertilized eggs can still give birth. Orphans who carry only one set of chromosomes from their mothers. Half of what is found in women. Sex is determined by the amount of genetic information in a bee's cells.
Very rarely can a second sperm sneak into an already fertilized egg, a future woman, and start copying. This creates two asymmetrical genera, which populate their own half of the growing embryo.
These double fertilization events appear to explain at least some of the gynendromorphs of honeybees. But male-female hybrids of other species can manifest in other ways. Another theory is that a cell in a typical female embryo is "wrong" when copied. Generate a female and a male cell instead of two female cells. This could produce a half male and half female bee.
In any case, finding one with these characteristics is like winning the lottery.