Bee Biology

The Queen

The queen bee is the dominant adult female bee that is the mother of almost all the bees in the hive. A newly hatched queen begins her life in a dual to the death with any other queens in the colony. She must also kill potential queens hatching in their cells.  Once established as queen she will take her mating flight. Queen bees only leave their hive for two reasons. The first time they leave is for their mating flight and the only other time is when a colony swarms.  During the mating flight the queen will fly to a “drone congregation” and mate with 7 to 15 drones.  The survival of the colony rest on the queen’s ability to lay eggs and increase their population. The queen will lay thousands of eggs each year. The queen is the only honeybee whose stinger will remain intact after stinging and it is only used to sting new potential queens.

Drones

Drones are the male bees that come from an unfertilized egg. Drones have bigger eyes, a bigger body and do not have a stinger. The drones only job is to mate with the queen.

Workers

Worker bees are female and accomplish many jobs in the hive. Worker bees take care of the queen, feed newly hatched worker bees, feed drones, make and preserve honey, build honeycomb, collect and store pollen, clean the hive by removing the dead, forage for food and nectar, carry in water, keep the hive at the right temperature by fanning their wings, guarding and protecting the hive against intruders. Worker bees will also cause a swarm and relocate to a new home.  A honeybee will only sting if it feels that the hive is threatened. The stinger of a worker honey bee is like a knife with many barbs. When the bees sting, they cannot pull the stinger out which tears their abdomen and they will die.