The Birth of a Bee

The birth of a bee

The birth and development of the honey bee

We love honey! But what about those busy little honey bees that spend their whole lives producing honey and protecting the queen? See how a worker bee is made in this fascinating video.

The whole process starts with the queen bee laying an egg. During the laying season (spring to summer) the queen bee can lay over 2000 eggs a day!

The worker bees build the combs and determine the size of the cells. Depending on the size of the cell, the queen bee decides what type of egg she will lay.

When the worker bees have prepared a worker-sized cell, she lays a fertilised egg. This egg will produce a female worker bee.

If the worker bees have prepared a slightly larger cell, the queen will recognise it as a drone cell (male bee) and lay an unfertilised egg. This creates a drone.

It is the workers and not the queen who determine the ratio of workers to drones within the hive.

The so-called larva hatches from the egg after three days. The larva is fed royal jelly by young nurse bees. Royal jelly is a nutrient-rich secretion that worker bees produce and feed to the larva. After three days they stop feeding royal jelly (unless that bee is to become a queen) and switch to honey and pollen. Queen bees are fed royal jelly throughout the larval stage.

A larva eats constantly and grows quickly. Within five days it has grown 1,500 times. When the larva is ready, the worker bees seal the cell with wax and the larva spins a cocoon around itself. Similar to the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, the larva spends the rest of its time in the cocoon cell, where wings, legs, eyes and all other parts of an adult bee form. This process takes about 12 days. The whole process from egg to fully developed worker bee takes between 18 and 22 days. For a queen bee it is about 16 days. Drones, male bees take 24 days. Once the young bee is fully developed, it nibbles its way through the wax seal of its cell. Now it is a fully functioning member of the hive and life as a honey bee begins.

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