The original question was:
Many animals can only reproduce when they are members of a colony of many individuals. For example: social bees can’t survive with only a male and female, but God said the animals on the ark were pairs composed of a male and female.  Can you explain this?

Answer by John Mackay

Some bees are actually solitary such as the UK’s leaf cutter bee, Megachile willughbiella, or the majority of Australia’s 1500 species of native bees, so two by two would not have been a problem for any KIND of solitary bee, but this question is about communal bees that live in a hive, such as the common honey bee Apis meliffera.

The Bible records God instructing Noah that all creatures which breathed air and lived on the dry land would come to the ark. (Genesis 6:20) Noah did not have to select or catch any of them.  The unclean creatures arrived by twos, and the clean creatures by sevens (Genesis 7:2). A clean creature was one that was still vegetarian exclusively at the time of boarding. Unclean animals were those which had started to scavenge the dead bodies, which had began to accumulate after Adam’s sin affected all the earth, and death affected all life. Prior to the flood there are no recorded carnivores. Predators are first mentioned in Job’s day. (e.g. Job 4:11, 38:39) Communal honey bees however are still clean creatures, as they still only eat plant products, i.e. nectar and pollen. They live in a hive where the queen is constantly attended by busy workers who bring food and keep the hive clean and in good condition.  So how would they survive the year of the flood?

First, we need to ask: how many did go on the Ark?

As clean creatures they went on in sevens. At the beginning of their adult life new queens go on a mating flight, where they mate with several male bees.  They then store the sperm, which will enable them to lay fertile eggs for the rest of their lives. The queen bee needs to be fertilised only once in their life.  Therefore a pre-flood mated queen along with six workers would serve the purpose of arriving at the ark.

Since it was God, and not Noah, who chose which animals should go on the Ark, He as the creator of bees, would know which queen has mated and was set to produce the next generation when the time came. But how could bees survive the year on the ark?

Bees have a well known trick which solves the problem. They are among a large group of creatures that can produce a slowed down state called torpor, which we still observe to conserves energy when bad weather comes, or when food supply diminishes. During torpidity their heart rate, respiration and body temperature slows down and the insect or animal becomes dormant. So a year in a cool dark corner of the ark is not hindrance to a queen and six workers, none of whom are doing much at all, especially when you realise it is God who is in charge of when reproduction will occur. (e.g. Psalm 104:30)

Furthermore, Noah had been ordered by God to obtain enough food to keep the creatures alive, (Genesis 6:21) What did he have to supply? This editor kept bees for several years. The maximum amount of bee food needed would be 4.5 Kg (10lb) of honey, as a full hive can survive the worst winter today on 13.5kg (30lbs).  This would have been no problem as any wild hive would have given him more than enough from only one collection, or perhaps Noah saw a neat storage solution and simply took a full hive of honey with him.

In summary: One fertilized queen along with six workers would be sufficient to maintain bees on planet earth until the flood was over and the hive could be put outside. Following this the queen could began producing offspring, including males and workers, and the newly formed hive would begin making honey for Noah’s family.

How did the plants survive while the population of bees was being built up? This is not a problem. Many other insects beside bees fertilise flowers including mosquitoes.

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About The Contributor

John Mackay