More on bees
I would like to point out the unique system of sex determination present in both ants and bees.
There are many systems of sex determination but all of them rely on the presence of special chromosomes referred to as sex chromosomes.
Humans for example, have 22 pairs of chromosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes.
While males have a heterogeneous pair of sex chromosomes (XY), females have a homogeneous pair (XX).
Subsequent division of the male cells produce sperm cells with half the number of chromosomes. Half the sperm cells have the Y sex chromosome and the other half contain the X chromosome. Thus, the sex of the baby depends on the sex chromosome type in the sperm cell which fertilizes the female egg.
All other mammals, most reptiles and insects have sex chromosomes. But most ants and bees do not.
In honeybees, the sex of each individual is NOT determined by the presence of sex chromosomes. Instead, the sex of a honeybee is determined by the number of chromosomes
Male honeybees develop from unfertilized eggs laid by the Queen.
Female honeybees develop from fertilized eggs and thus have double the number of chromosomes in males.
Thus honeybee males have 16 chromosomes while females have 32 chromosomes.
It is hence amazing that the chapter in the Quran named The Bee is also numbered 16.
This chapter also contains 128 verses. The number 128 is divisible by both 16 and 32.
While female honeybees do all the work, the sole purpose of the males is to fertilize the queen.
The bee community determines the number of female workers it needs by fertilizing the queen—to produce more females.
This ingenious method of selecting the sex of the newborn is a parable that might explain why God mentioned in verses 57-59 of the same chapter how the idolators used to discriminate against female born girls by burying them alive:
They even assign daughters to GOD, be He glorified, while they prefer for themselves what they like. When one of them gets a baby girl, his face becomes darkened with overwhelming grief. Ashamed, he hides from the people, because of the bad news given to him. He even ponders: should he keep the baby grudgingly, or bury her in the dust. Miserable indeed is their judgment. [16:57-59]
The chapter also deals very heavily with the miracle of God’s creation.
And what more powerful way to illustrate it than by mentioning the amazing honeybee which displays remarkable power to do what humans still cannot do—namely controlling population through sex determination. As God said in verse 68 of the same chapter:
AND YOUR LORD INSPIRED THE BEE: build homes in mountains and trees, and in (the hives) they build for you. [16:68]
It may be of interest to note that the first statement of the verse “And your Lord inspired the bee” contains 16 (Arabic) letters.
Praise be to God forever and peace be on us all.