The Social Life of Bees
Bee life is fascinating, and in this post, you’ll learn how they work together for their health, survival, and sustainability.
As a beekeeper, you are helping nature by giving the honey bees a place to live and food to eat.
The Different Types of Bees in a Colony
Honey bees are very social insects, and in their society, there are definite classes to help protect and serve the colony.
In many ways, you can see honey bees as a collective, all working together for the benefit of each other and most importantly the queen.
The Social Life of Bees
The Social Life of Bees
Each hive consists of at least three types of adult bees.
- Worker Bees – There are more worker bees than any other type of bee. There will be thousands of worker bees in any one colony. The worker bees collect food, build nests and raise the brood. There are also laying workers that activate when a colony loses its queen for some reason, to produce an emergency queen.
- Drones – Usually there are also several hundred drones. The drones are large male bees which are responsible for fertilizing queens, and then they die. They don’t do any work other than mating, but they can feed themselves once they’re about four days old. They eat more food than any of the other bees. They leave the hive to mate with other queens, not the queen that produced them.
- Queen – The survival of a colony of bees living in a bee hive depends on the queen bee. Without a queen bee, the hive will eventually die.
The hives queen bee is the only female bee in the hive that has fully developed reproductive organs. The queen is not in control of the hive. Her soul purpose is to lay eggs that will develop into bees that will fill other roles in the hive.
There is usually only one queen in a colony at a time. Her only function is reproduction, and she lays up to 1500 eggs per day and up to 250,000 eggs per year during her lifetime.
Queens can live for several years but are usually only productive for two to three years. She mates with the drones in flight, away from the hive to avoid inbreeding.
The queen bee is determined when the bee is still in its larval stage. The larval that has been set aside as potential queens are fed extra royal jelly. Royal jelly is a secretion that the worker bees store in their heads.
Larvae that the hive feels will make potential queens are also kept in Queen cells. Queen cells differ from cells used in the rest of the hive because they are larger.
Potential queen larvae must be determined within four days of the time the larvae are laid.
When it is time for the queen to leave her cell, she chews through the cap. As she eats, she emits a sound that is believed to warn other hatching queens of her arrival. Music aficionados will recognize the sound like a G sharp.
When the new queen is old enough to fly she leaves the hive. While she is away from the hive, she must find several drone bees from a different hive to mate with.
It is important that the queen mates with at least twelve drones during this nuptial flight. The sperm that she collects during this trip will be the sperm that she uses for the rest of her life. If the queen is unable to make the nuptial flight the survival of the rest of the hive is in peril. Most hives try to keep several virgin queens alive to help prevent that from happening.
Most hives allow the old queen to continue to lay eggs; however, when it is time for the rest of the hive to swarm, she leaves the hive.
Once they have mated with a queen, the drone bees die.
It is normally easy to see which bee is the queen bee when she is surrounded by other bees.
She has an abdomen that is considerably longer than her fellow hive mates. To make identifying the queen faster, many beekeepers mark their queen with a tiny bit of paint.
There are also different types of brood that the queen lays: eggs, larvae, and pupae.
Eggs are laid that become larvae in about three days, which become pupae and finally (depending on what type of adult bee they will become) the new workers, drones, and even queens will emerge if the queen is lost.
Are you suited to a beekeeping hobby? Check to see if you are here ” BEE your own boss and create a new sweet income stream”. And, learn about the equipment you need to get started here, “Start your own sweet Beekeeping income stream,” or look at some of the most popular “Best Bee Books” or perhaps you are curious about the “Social Life of Bees.”
Bees are essential to the world’s food supply and life itself. Plantings in your garden provide food for bees, the more you plant across all seasons, the happier the bees will be. All Year Gardening provides inspiration for the garden in spring, summer, autumn and even winter.