About Honey Bees
colony of honeybees during the active season is composed of a queen,
several hundred drones, 30,000---
and brood in all stages of development. Honeybees have become
so highly specialized in their functions that no
individual bee, including the queen, is capable of establishing a new colony
Queen bee: The queen is the
only member of the colony capable of laying eggs, which have been fertilized by
spermatozoa. A prolific queen is essential to have a strong colony. She will lay
up to 1,500 eggs
during a 24-hour period. A young queen normally takes one or more mating flights
within 4 to 12 days after emerging from her cell. Queen bees may live 6-7 years,
but are of the most productive value during the first two seasons of their life.
Her sting resembles a wasp’s, being relatively smooth, and is used to destroy
The drone’s sole function is to furnish spermatozoa. Mating takes place
outside the nest in the air and the drone dies after the act. Drones range 8
miles or more in their flights and are welcomed into any colony, provided there
is an abundance of nectar and pollen.
Worker bee: The worker bee is a
nonreproductive female (no spermatozoa). Her sting is used only as a defensive
weapon. It can be thrust into other insects. However, when the sting pierces the
skin, barbs on the sting cause it to be torn from the bee.
worker bees perform hive duties while older bees forage in the field. The length
of the worker’s life depends on her wings. They last only 6 weeks or less
during the peak season. Workers that emerge in fall generally live through the
winter, but die
during the spring.
All castes of the honeybee pass through four stages in their development: egg,
larva, pupa and adult. The bee larva is a legless grub. At the end of the
feeding period, attendant bees seal the mature larva in its cell by means of a
porous wax capping. After the capping is in place, the larva
spins a cocoon lining the inside of its cell. During its growth, the larva sheds
its skin (molts) five times. The last molt produces the pupa, which molts once
before the adult bee emerges
from the cell.