There are three types of bees in a hive: the queen, the workers, and the drones. We all knew that, right? Did you know that the workers are all female and the drones are male? In the summer you should have about a 95% workers, 5% drones. In the winter, it will be 100% workers (well, and the one queen).
The queen will be born and need to travel to a “drone congregation area” to mate with as many drones as possible over seven days. Once the queen has mated, she returns to the hive again, and never mates again. She is holding enough sperm to fertilize all the eggs she lays in her lifetime. Queens can lay up to 2,000+ eggs per day!
When a queen mates with a drone, his work is over in seconds. He mates, his endophallus breaks off in the queen, and he falls to the ground and dies. What a life!
The only eggs she fertilizes are in the worker cells and the queen cells. The drone cells are unfertilized. The workers make the cells and the queen lays an egg and decides if the size of the cell merits fertilization. Worker cells are smaller than drone cells. It’s crazy to me that the workers are the ones determining what needs to be done! But that’s how it works. The egg is the first step of the life cycle and very important when learning how to read your brood.
Here is a picture of one of my frames. You can see pollen (orange cells), Larva (white cells), capped worker cells (brown cells) and if you look in the upper right hand corner, you can see the size difference between worker and drone cells.
In three days the egg hatches into larvae. This larva is the fed by the workers and taken care of until they are large enough to go into their “transformation” stage. The cells are capped at nine days for both workers and drones. When the workers cap the larvae, it transform into a bee, like a caterpillar transforms to a butterfly. Worker caps are flat and wrinkly, the drone caps are domed and bumpy. Being able to see the larva in the cells at different stages of growth is a great sign that you hive is thriving.
Once capped, the transformation begins.
Not sure that there is anything in this blog that falls under the “5 beekeepers, 6 opinions” rule. This is all just basic science. There are more scientific terms for what I’ve told you about here, but I wanted to keep it simple. To help you learn more about the most important honeybee.
More to come on the three types of bees…
Thank you for reading, enjoying (I hope) and coming back for more! Until then…
Have a bee-utiful day! ;)
This picture of my bees was taken 5/24/16, in this picture are eggs, larvae, and capped brood. Plus you can see the pollen they've stored up!