The Queen Bee
The survival of a colony of
honeybees living in a beehive all depends on the queen bee. Without a queen bee the hive will eventually die.
The hives queen 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
within the hive.
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 beehive 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 and are designed vertically instead of horizontally, the queen hangs, head down, during her
Potential queen larvae must be
determined within four days of the time the larvae is laid.
When it is time for the queen to
leave her cell, she chews through the cap. As she chews, she emits a sound that is believed to warn other hatching
queens of her arrival. Music aficionados will recognize the sound as a G sharp. It is not unusual to find that
after the first queen bee has hatched that the rest of the queen cells have a slit in them where the young queen
has chewed through, effectively killing the developing larvae inside the cells. Beekeeper's call the destroyed
larvae, virgin queens. Worker bees will try to keep several young queens alive at a time in order to have a backup
Queen available if the first queen is unable to find a mate or does not survive her nuptial
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 mate with at least twelve drones during this nuptial
The sperm that she collects
during this flight 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
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 a abdomen that is considerably longer then her
fellow hive mates. To make identifying the queen faster many beekeeper's mark their queen with a tiny bit of
The average life span of the
queen bee is two to three years.