Most people know that honeybees live in honeycombed hives and produce honey to feed their young. But do you know how bees grow and develop into adults? And did you know that there are three different types of honeybees, drones, workers, and queens?
If you’ve ever heard the expression “queen bee” referring to somebody who thinks she is the boss, here’s why: only one bee in each hive lays eggs, and she really is the boss! The queen is the biggest bee in the hive, which could number up to 10,000 bees, and since she lays all the eggs needed. If a queen becomes old or sick, workers will start to raise a queen larva to replace her when she dies.
Drones are male bees and their job is to mate with the queen to fertilize her eggs to produce workers. Smaller than the drones, worker bees are all females who don’t mate. Their job is to collect nectar and pollen to feed young, growing larvae.
The queen lays each of her eggs into a cell of the honeycomb. Some eggs will grow to be queens and drones and these need larger cells than the smaller worker bee eggs. Drone eggs are unfertilized – only fertilized eggs grow into females (queens and workers). Eggs hatch after 3 days, and out come larvae which are fed first royal jelly, then pollen and honey for 5-6 days. At this point, their cells are capped with wax to seal them in and the larvae turn into pupae. Pupae don’t eat, but instead they undergo a metamorphosis that changes them into adult bees, which break through their cell caps after 8-10 days and are able to fly!