Life Cycle Of Honey Bee

Apis is the scientific name of the bee. Apis is the Latin word that means bees. Honey bees fall under the Apis Mellifera, which produces organic honey. Beekeeping or apiculture is the process of breeding bees to secure honey. It is an ancient practice started by hunters to get sweet food such as pure honey or organic honey. Honey bees always astound humans by providing the sweet substance or stinging. Bees live in colonies and are considered to be social insects. They are vital for agriculture and a good source of pollination. In fact, bees pollinate one-third of the food supply of the world. 

The complete life cycle of a honey bee starts with the first and most important step, which is mating the queen bees by the drones. In order to mate, queen bees go on a mating flight by leaving the nest or hive. They mate in the air approximately twenty-four times. The impregnated queen bees return to their nest and start laying eggs which is the first part of the life cycle of a honey bee. These eggs will transform into adult bees after the complete process. Bees usually develop into adults by four steps. The whole life cycle of a honey bee incorporates egg, larva, pupa and adult. Read this article to learn the complete life cycle of a honey bee with its all distinct life cycle phases.

The life cycle of honey bee

Four basic steps transform an egg into an adult bee. But there are different variations of time to develop queen, drone and worker. The average time for the adult drone to develop is twenty-four days; for the queen, it is sixteen days, and for the workers, it takes eighteen to twenty-two days. Let's discuss every step of the life cycle of honey bees in detail.

  1. Egg - The queen bee lay eggs in wax with the hexagonal egg cell. The size of the egg is equal to the grain of rice. The egg stands in the cell, falling on one side on the third day. According to a study, a normal queen bee can lay up to three thousand eggs per day. Unfertilised eggs will become male, placed in a larger cell; they are usually called drones. At the same time, the fertilised egg is the females, which can be workers or potential queens. There are special cells called Queen cells where potential queens are placed.
  2. Larva - The egg starts turning into a larva on the third day. It resembles the little white grub; the larva is blind and has no legs. Young workers who still did not leave the hive feed the larva. There are different jellies for every larva. Worker jelly is fed to the female workers, drone jelly to the drone larva, and a special kind of jelly known as royal jelly is fed to the queen larva. Worker larva gets fed for three to four days, and then they are switched to the jelly with lesser protein. In comparison, adult workers feed on organic honey and pollen.

     Queen larva and queens are fed the royal jelly throughout their lives. Royal jelly is known as bee milk, and it is the mixture of the salivary gland of the mouth and glands of the head, usually prepared by young worker bees called nurse bees. Royal jelly contains water and minerals, sugar, fat, salt, vitamins and protein. Larva, when grow shed out their skin many times. Depending on the larva of the worker, drone and queen, the egg cell is covered with wax by bees after six days.

  3. Pupa - In the fixed egg cell, the larva officially starts turning into pula. Bee starts shaping in this phase. They will start growing head, legs, wings, abdomen and thorax. But the transformation that occurs is inside the wax-covered cell. But with deep insight, you can still figure out the proper shape of the bee. Colour starts first in eyes; they first get pink eyes, then purple and finally black. And then, the hair develops on the bee's body with beautiful yellow and black straps. After twelve days, young honey bees come out of their cell by chewing their way out to join their family in the colony.

  4. Adult bee - Ultimately, the young grown-up bee will come out from wax capping by chewing. Finally freeing themselves from the hexagonal egg cell. As mentioned earlier, queen bees take sixteen days to emerge from the cell, worker bees take eighteen to twenty-two days, and drones take more days than everyone else to emerge, which is twenty-four days. It is the complete life cycle of the honey bee that changes an egg into a fully grown adult bee.

FAQs about the life cycle of honey bees.

Q1. How many bees live in a normal beehive?

There are up to twenty to fifty thousand bees in the average beehive. An old beehive sometimes contains more than eighty thousand honey bees. Honey bees live together as colonies and work hard to provide different honey varieties such as organic honey and pure honey. The hard-working honey species keep themselves warm in winter and provide delicious food to humans.

Q2. How do bees construct beehives?

Bees construct beehives through beeswax; young worker bees make it. Beeswax is a special product made of eight paired glands present in the bees' abdomens. It is the liquid wax that turns hard in the air. Honey bees keep the wax in their mouth when they construct the honeycomb. It maintains the working condition of the wax to create the beehive. 

Q3. How much honey can beehive produce throughout its lifetime?

Average beehives produce fifty to sixty thousand organic honey in their lifetime. Out of produced honey, seventy-five per cent is utilized by humans through harvesting, while bees only take twenty-five per cent of their honey. 

Q4. What is colony collapse disorder?

CCD is the colony collapse disorder noticed by the beekeepers in 2006, where the large colonies of bees abruptly disappear. Many reasons caused CCD, including genetically modified crops, climate change, pesticides, and radiation from cell phones.