A queen becomes a queen in 16 days after the egg is laid. These queen larva are Royal Jelly eating machines and by feeding copious amounts of Royal Jelly to the larvae by the workers, the larvae morphs into a queen, with fully functioning ovaries.
The workers create the special queen cells when they have determined the queen is weakening (or she has died for some reason). During swarm season, when a queen is older or the hive is getting too full, five to twenty new queen eggs may be laid.
The first new queen to arrive will kill all the other queens in the hive and take over. This is why bees swarm. The old queen will take half of the workers before the new queen emerges and try and find a new place to build a hive. (As I’ve said before, being able to gather a swarm is the least expensive way to get a hive going, usually they are free.)
A queen can live about five years and can have formed multiple hives during her lifetime. She is only fertilized once though.
Within her first week of life she flies out to the “drone congregation area” and is inseminated. Many drones may inseminate her during her flights, but these are the only mating flights she will take. She stores the sperm in a special sac in her abdomen and releases the seamen as necessary during her life.
Life cycle of a Drone
A drone is a big, fat, waddling bee with HUGE eyes! He has no stinger and he basically does nothing in his life but inseminate a queen. He doesn’t usually inseminate his own queen; drone from other hives will do that. This is one of the ways nature has tried to create strong bee colonies… diversity of gene pool.
When the drone emerges from the cell after transformation, he is fed, cleaned, and completely taken care of by the workers in his hive. His only basic “work” is to fly to the “congregation area” and inseminate a queen; then if you remember, he dies!
It takes 24 days after the egg is laid for a drone to emerge from the cell. The drone will live about 45-50 days before a natural death.
As mentioned before, there are very few drones in comparison to workers.
The drone’s life isn’t very interesting, that is for sure, but they live a good life and are integral to the functioning of the hive.
Life cycle of a Worker
A worker bee is the backbone of the hive.
They are in charge of building the comb, feeding the queen, larva, and drones. Gathering the pollen and nectar is also the job of the worker bee.
Worker bees emerge from the cell in 21 days after the egg is laid. All cells not fed the royal jelly become worker bees.
The worker bee’s life span is about 30 days in the summer and in the winter they can live up to four months.
Thanks for reading! Now we are getting to the good stuff! Can't wait!
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!