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Welcome to the Beehive: The Queen Bee

Bees are fascinating creatures, and the inner-workings of their hive offers an amazing example of a cohesive unified community. That being said, it is not a community that you want to grow inside the eaves or roof of your home.  Little Giant Beekeepers can help relocate bees in North Texas from your home or yard to an apiary.

Each bee has a specific job for its short life cycle.

There are nine different jobs performed inside the hive.  This article will focus on the queen bee.  The queen bee has one responsibility – to make babies. Lots of lots of babies.  She can lay up to 2,000 eggs in one day.  Her lifespan averages two- three years.  So, you can say the queen bee has the most crucial job to help the hive survive.

What does a queen bee look like?

The queen bee is slightly larger than worker bees. She has a more elongated abdomen and legs. She usually stays toward the middle of the hive.  She has shorter wings than other bees because she doesn’t fly ever, except for her one and only mating flight. Her stinger isn’t barbed like the other bees in the colony.  Its straight, which allows her to sting repeatedly if she chooses.

To locate her in a hive, look for the bee completely encircled by worker bees attending to her every need. They even predigest her food, since she can’t do it herself and continually groom her.

The birth of a queen bee

All “baby bees” or bee larvae are fed “royal jelly” by the worker bees for the first three days of life. After this time, only the projected queen bee is still fed royal jelly, and the other worker bees are fed another substance called” bee bread” (a mixture of pollen, nectar and honey). These differences in what the bees are fed, changes their genetics and creates the queen bee. When a queen begins to grow old, she weakens and stops laying so many eggs.  Her pheromones will also begin to fade.  This, is when a new queen bee starts being groomed.

How does a queen bee make eggs?

The queen bee only mates one time within the first 1-2 weeks of her life.  She can mate with multiple drones (male bees), usually between 12-15 on average and up to 40 in one flight.  They mate in the air and the drone dies immediately after. The Queen saves the sperm in a unique organ, and then uses it to fertilize eggs for the rest of her life. She can even choose to lay unfertilized eggs that become drones, the only male bees. A fertilized egg can become either a worker bee or possibly a queen bee in the future.

Who decides who the next queen bee is?

Queen bees also give off a pheromone. This lets the hive know the queen bee is healthy. If bees in the colony can no longer smell the pheromone, they know the queen bee is fading, and it is time to raise a new queen bee. Workers will begin creating several new queen cells by feeding the larvae royal jelly.  When the new Queen bees hatch out, they instinctively hunt for each other and fight to the death.  Whichever queen remains, will rule the hive.  Occasionally, the new Queen might even let the previous Queen live out her life side-by-side.

Queen bees are fascinating leaders. There is so much more to learn about these creatures. One fact is for sure you do not want a queen bee or hive moving inside your house. The longer you wait to fix the problem, the worse it will get.

Please call Little Giant Beekeepers if you are interested in learning about live bee removals.

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