A colony's 'genetic potential' is carried by its

queen

The complete genetic package: Queen (WX) mated with drones (A-J)

WX

Mated queen (WX) produces W or X eggs that can be fertilized by sperm from drones (A-J)

Figure 1A.  Queens carry two genome copies (they are therefore diploid).  One copy is derived from the mother’s egg; the other from the father’s sperm (here indicated as W and X).  A queen produces eggs that help to maintain these parental lineages across generations.  Each egg carries a single genetically unique genome copy.  This uniqueness results from the largely random process of DNA recombination that occurs during egg development.  Recombination shuffles the parental genetic material to produce new unique hereditary combinations.   Mated queens also carry the genetic information (stored sperm) contributed by the drones she mated with (A-J).  A well-mated queen will therefore carry a wealth of genetic potential acquired from the surrounding population of breeding colonies.

Figure 1B.  An egg carries a single complete queen derived genetic complement.  Another complete copy, derived from one of the drones the queen mated with (here indicated A-J) is added during fertilization.  These fertilized ‘diploid’ cells are destined to develop into females and hence have the potential to become queens (WA to XG).  

 

Practical breeding implication:  This means that multiple daughter colonies must be grafted in order to retrieve as much as possible of the drone contributed genetic information in the mother hive.