Born this way

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Three fathers, two mothers, one father and two mothers—all are naturally occuring parent combinations for honeybees. Honeybees are haplodiploid, which means that females hatch from fertilised eggs (and have two parents) while males hatch from unfertilised eggs (and have no father). This makes it possible for new forms of reproduction to occur, and new research into bees’ DNA, published in Biology Letters last November, found that they can have multiple parents of various sexes. Researchers estimate that one to two per cent of bees are born this way—they’re known as sex mosaics, or gynandromorphs, and have a mixture of male and female characteristics.

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