Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

Who was that beguiling blond with the blue dot?

Commentator EntoWannaBe (EntoWanna-Bee?) picks up 8 points for correctly guessing that she’s Cordovan and that the color of the beekeeper’s mark on her back indicates her age. The present insect was born in 2010: this year. She’s a queen from one of the student hives in the University of Illinois Beekeeping class.

The Cordovan trait is a single mutation that knocks out the black color in the bee cuticle. It’s a recessive trait, so visibly Cordovan queens are homozygous. Since this queen mated with mostly wild-type drones, most of her daughters retain the wild-type stripes. It’s a handy marker for beekeepers, as Cordovan coloration doesn’t confer any obviously negative effects on the bees and it allows for easy visual tracking of individuals.

Two points each go to Linda Bui, Joshua King, Megan M, and FormicidaeFantasy for bee-ing punny in the comments. Ha.

Speaking of, here’s a bee song to stick in your head:

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