Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Mother of the Hive

                As the American Honey Princess I always have children asking, where do the bees come from? How did they get there? How are there always new bees showing up? Well, to begin with, there are three types of bees in a hive, the queen, the drone, and the worker bee. The hive needs all three types of bees working together to be able to live their everyday lives. There is one queen in the hive, about 1000 drones, and anywhere from 40,000-80,000 worker bees. That is a massive amount of bees! Today, I want to tell you about the queen bee.  She is the mother of the hive, and because of her we have new bees all the time.  

            There is only one queen in the hive and she has one very important job! She lays all of the eggs in the hive; laying up to 2000 eggs each day! That is her only job. Honey bees do not sleep, so the queen will lay her eggs 24 hours a day until the weather gets cold in the winter. The queen will live about 1 to 3 years and then she will die and be replaced by a new queen.

            When the old queen dies the worker bees locate a 1-3 day old egg she laid before her death. They remove the egg from the cell it was laid in and place it in a new, larger cell that allows the egg more room to grow.  This particular egg will need extra room to grow because it will grow into the new queen bee.  Remember, the queen bee is the largest bee in the hive. After placing the egg in the new cell, the worker bees feed the egg a liquid called royal jelly, which they make from the sides of their heads. Other normal eggs in the hive get fed a mixture of pollen and nectar; however, queen eggs are fed only royal jelly. This special liquid is what makes the egg become a queen bee.  That is how new queen bees are made.

            Five days after the queen emerges out of the cell she goes on a mating flight where she will mate with approximately 15 drones.  Afterwards, she will fly back to the hive. The queen will never leave the hive again unless the hive swarms because she is mated for life. When she gets back to the hive, the new queen will start laying her eggs.

Because the queen lays so many eggs every day, she does not have enough time to take care of herself. Instead, the worker bees take care of her. She always has a group of bees that surround her called the queen’s court. The queen’s court takes care of all the queen’s needs.   They feed and groom her. She lets off pheromone smells, like a perfume, that allows the other bees in the hive to know her identity and requirements.

            The queen is only 1 bee in a hive of 60,000 bees, but without her the whole hive will could not survive. Every bee in the hive is important and they depend on each other. The queen helps continue the colony by laying more eggs. This way the hive can be strong and healthy. The queen is the mother of the hive.