I want to note that the way the sex binary looks like it’s present throughout the animal world is that white scientists have a terrible habit of labeling everything “male” or “female” even when it makes no sense.
Like, by any reasonable metric, bees have three sexes: drone, queen, and worker. Workers are only labelled female because someone couldn’t abide the idea of something not being either one or the other.
And before someone calls “genetics” there are many species where both sexes have the exact same genetics, and even many where individuals can change reproductive capacity at will, and scientists suddenly have no problem calling the ones who grow eggs “female” even though they were “male” two weeks ago.
Some species of mammals reproduce asexually. They have only one sex. It is still called “female” because it makes babies even though one might reasonably ask why even make the distinction when every single individual makes babies just the same.
Sex is a social construct.
in honey bees, drones are born from unfertilized eggs. queens and worker bees are born from fertilized eggs.
queens mate with drones and then the queens can lay viable eggs. this is pretty similar to the behavior of other animals we divide into male and female sexes
queens and workers are genetically all sisters; queens become queens because of pheromones and such in the royal jelly they are fed as larvae, and workers usually fail to develop functioning ovaries because of different pheromones they are exposed to during the same timeframe. DESPITE THIS, there are still occasionally workers that can lay viable eggs!
'no sense' and 'unreasonable' don't seem like good arguments to using 'male' and 'female' as convenient shorthand words to use when discerning between 'bees with testicles' and 'bees with ovaries, including undeveloped ovaries' — also remember there are many many species of bee that do not have a worker CASTE at all, which incidentally is the word you were probably looking for all along
also there’s no such thing as a parthenogenic mammal unless its been artificially induced into it in a laboratory which i don’t think counts
Part of the problem, though, is that in a large number of species, sex isn’t determined by genetics at all.
In early developmental stages, humans have a generalized reproductive tract which superficially resembles the female reproductive tract. Depending on the chemical environment it is exposed to, it will develop into a functioning female reproductive tract, a functioning male reproductive tract, or more rarely into neither. Neither of the latter cases is “female” despite having originally had ‘proto-ovaries’. The same is true of bees.
It is inconsistent to apply the term “female” to non-reproductive individuals based on genetics or even developmental potential, when in other animals (e.g. sequential hermaphrodites, those which exhibit temperature-dependent sex determination, etc.) there is no genetic difference between individuals with different sexes, but rather an ontogenetic or environmental one, and thus the developmental potential for either.
Quite simply, from a biological standpoint “male” means “produces sperm” and “female” means “produces eggs”—trust me, I know from someone with a PhD in the subject—so a worker bee is not “female” because they can’t produce eggs. Furthermore, worker bees have their reproductive organs modified for a non-reproductive task (the stinger) so it’s inaccurate to say that they’re simply an undeveloped female.
Laying worker bees are female, because they can produce eggs. This doesn’t mean that non-egg-producing workers are female, though—again, differences in their external environment affected their reproductive potential.
I grant that the OP made some incorrect statements about biology—“worker” is not a sex as they do not produce gametes, but rather a ‘morph’ or ‘caste’, and they said “mammal” where they presumably intended to say animal—but their primary point still stands: in order to argue that worker bees are female, one must define “sex” in an arbitrary, case-by-case way designed to impose a binary where none exists in nature.