Most people have heard of the queen bee, but not many people know exactly what a queen bee is and what her role in the bee hive is. I have recently become interested in this myself, and I have put together some fascinating information for those of you who are interested in the life of a queen bee and her colony.
The first part of this story is that some bees live in colonies and some do not. “Social bees,” which are the bees that have a queen, live in colonies; this group of bees is made up of female workers, male bees, which are called drones, and the queen bee (Leokum, 1986, p.57). These bees live together for the summer.
The queen bee is an amazing creature because she is the only bee of her colony that “lives through the winter,” and in the spring time she begins a new colony (Leoukum, 1986, p.57). The queen bee is constantly working throughout her whole life.
In the spring she looks for a home in which to start her colony. The queen bee piles soft materials together to create a nest, and she leaves a spot in the bottom hollow so she can start her nursery (Leokum, 1986, p.57). This is only the beginning for the queen. After her home is complete she gathers some pollen and nectar, and she places this pile on the bottom of the nursery. The queen bee then lays her eggs on this lump, “covers them with wax, and sits on them” (Leokum, 1986, p.58).
Before she lays her eggs she has to create a food supply that will last until the baby bees have grown big enough to feed themselves. In order to do this she creates a “large waxen cell,” and this cell is “filled with enough honey for food to last until her eggs have hatched” (Leokum, 1986, p.58). This cell will be the emergency back up food supply for the rest of this colonies life, and they will work to keep it full throughout the season.
After the queen bees makes a nest she starts to lay eggs. In the beginning of a colonies life the “only bees born are worker” bees; later in the summer she will start to produce future queens and male bees (Leokum, 1986, p. 58). All the queen bee does all summer is lay eggs.
In the fall the colony will break apart, and the queen bee will find a place to live for the winter. She will usually choose a “hole dug in a sandbank” or something similar to wait out the cold winter months (Leokum, 1986, p.57). Over the summer season the queen bee has laid many eggs. She “lays more than 1,500 eggs per day and about 250,000 in a season” (Leokum, 1986, p.58). The queen bee is the most important bee because without her there would be no colony.
So the next time you hear of the queen bee know that she is a serious mama!
Leokum, A. (1986). The Big book of tell me why. New York, NY: Grosset and Dunlap.