The queen emerges after only 16 days from a normal fertilized egg to an adult. She is raised in a special queen cell
on a special diet of royal jelly, resulting in a radically different growth development. The queen is the only fertile
female in the colony. The queen lays all her eggs in hexagonal beeswax cells built by workers.
The queen may live up to 5 years and may be capable of laying 2,000 eggs a day. The queen influences the colony
by the production of a variety of pheromones.
A crowded colony rears several daughter queens, then the original mother queen flies away from the colony,
accompanied by up to 60 percent of the workers. These bees cluster on some object such as a tree branch while
scout bees search for a more permanent nest site - usually a hollow tree or wall void. Within 24 hours the swarm
relocates to the new nest. One of the daughter queens that was left behind inherits the original colony.
Almost all the bees in a hive are infertile female worker bees that tend the young, gather and store nectar and pollen,
make honey, royal jelly and beebread, produce wax and care for the queen and drones. Worker bees can number in
the thousands. The workers emerge from fertilized eggs to adult after 21 days and begin working almost immediately.
As they age, workers do the following tasks in this sequence: clean cells, circulate air with their wings, feed larvae,
practice flying, receive pollen and nectar from foragers, guard hive entrance and forage.
Unlike colonies of social wasps and bumble bees, honey bee colonies live year after year. Therefore, most activity in a
bee colony is aimed at surviving the next winter. When the air is hot, workers will ventilate the hive by fanning her
wings just outside the hive. At the height of summer when activity in the hive is frantic the work goes on non-stop.
The drones emerge from unfertilized eggs to adults in 24 days. They are the largest bees in th hive - almost three
times the size of a worker bee. They do not work, do not forage for pollen or nectar and are only produced in order to
mate with new queens. A bee colony will generally start to raise drones a few weeks before building queen cells in
preparation for swarming.
|Characteristics of the three castes of honeybee
Top - Queen
Bottom Left - Worker
Bottom Right - Drone
|Honey bees are social insects that live in groups called colonies. They rely on each other for the
survival of the hive. Within each colony are three types of honey bee; a queen, worker bees and
drones. Members of each caste have a sightly different body depending on the tasks performed.