Queen honeybee surrounded by workers | Denis Anderson, CSIRO/Wikimedia Commons
Animals

Whether a Bee Becomes a Queen Comes Down to This Ingredient

Tiny plant molecules determine if a bee becomes a worker or a queen, and researchers are now wondering how these same molecules impact humans.

Published On 08/31/2017
7:00 PM EDT
R R esearch during the past five years has shown that plants wield far more power over those who consume them than previously thought. For example, micro RNAs (miRNAs) ingested from plants can pass through an individual’s gastrointestinal tract, enter the blood stream, accumulate in tissues, and regulate gene expression. In short, these tiny molecules can affect the very essence of the consumer.
Honeybees create honey in their hive through the topped-out combs, and they keep beebread — their food — in the other combs. | Emma Mullen
Graphic showing how plant miRNAs affect bee development | Xi Chen and Kegan Zhu
Bee hieroglyph from the Egyptian tomb complex of Senusret I, who ruled from 1971 BC to 1926 BC | Keith Schengili-Roberts/Wikimedia Commons