Bees – Lectures by Rudolf Steiner - The different bee types and their times to reach maturity
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Bees – Lectures by Rudolf Steiner
November 26th 1923
Add to that something else. To reach full maturity, the queen needs only sixteen days. At that time it is already a fully grown queen. A worker needs about twenty-one days, a longer period. You could say that nature uses more care in creating the final shape of workers than it does with queens. ….. Well, so the workers need twenty-one days. The drones, which are used up fastest by the beehive- these male bees are killed when they have fulfilled their purpose – need twenty-three to twenty-four days. You see, this is an entirely new matter. The various bee types (queens, workers, drones) need a different number of days to achieve maturity.
Well, gentlemen, with regard to these twenty-one days a worker needs to develop, there is something rather peculiar.
Twenty-one days is not a random number without any particular significance for all the things that happen here on Earth. Twenty-one days is the approximate time span the Sun needs to revolve once on its axis and return to the point where it can begin a new cycle. Just imagine, the worker bee's development is just barely completed at the same time that the Sun has completed a single revolution on its axis. By following this cycle, gentlemen, the worker bee has experienced every different effect the sun can have on it, and all of these effects are now within the bee..........................
The drones are fertile males; this fertilization capability comes from the Earth. The drones acquire the power to fertilize from the few days longer they are exposed, as incomplete insects, to the influence of Earth development. This leads us to the conclusion that with bees you can see clearly that the male's fertilization powers come from the energies given by the Earth, whereas the female capability to develop eggs derives from the Sun's energies. You see, gentlemen, you can comprehend the great significance of the particular length of time that a being needs to develop. During a certain period something occurs that does not happen in a shorter or longer period, but in the shorter or longer period something else happens.
There is one more thing to consider: the queen develops in sixteen days. Here is its point of complete development …that it took as it stood opposite the Sun; it remains within the period of Sun development. The workers complete this Sun rotation period, but they remain within the sphere of the Sun's influence and do not enter the Earth development phase. Because they belong to the same Sun development cycle, they feel related to the queen; they feel themselves tied to the queen. The drones, they say, are traitors; they have already split away from the group and have fallen to Earth.
They no longer belong with them. They only tolerate them because they need them. And what do they need them for?
It sometimes happens that a queen is not fertilized and nevertheless lays eggs capable of development. The queen does not need to be fertilized in all instances; she will lay eggs anyhow. This is called, in the instance of bees, a virgin brood.
The queen has not been fertilized. Some other insects are capable of doing the same. Parthenogenesis is the scientific term for it. But from the eggs that are laid in this way, only drones will hatch! If the queen is not fertilized, no more worker bees and queen bees can be produced, only drones.
Such a beehive has no practical use. You can see that with a virgin brood, only the opposite sex can arise, never the same sex. That is a very interesting fact, a fact that is very important for maintaining nature's entire household: fertilization is necessary so that the same sex will be reproduced-naturally only in the lower animals, not in the higher ones. That's why it is that out of bee eggs only drones can be created, if no fertilization has taken place.