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Life Cycle Of Honey Bees

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Life Cycle Of The Honey Bee Wall Chart

Honey Bees – Life Cycle


  • A great tool for anyone teaching about honeybees
  • This educational, full-colour poster displays the life cycle of the three castes of honey bee: queens, drones and workers
  • Get an “inside look” with this wonderful tool
  • Dimensions : 63.5cm x 89cm

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Life Cycle of the Honey Bee Wall Chart

  • Get an “inside look” with this wonderful tool
  • Dimensions : 63.5cm x 89cm

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For How Long Do Honey Bees Live What Is The Lifespan Of The Different Members Of The Honey Bee Colony

The life spans of honey bees differ depending on their function in the colony, and when they emerged in the season.I have written a page comparing the lifespans of the different types of bees, called How Long Do Bees Live?


The average lifespan of a drone is 55 days. Drones that mate with new honey bee queens, will die immediately after mating. However, there are reports of drones living to about 90 days – or about 12 – 13 weeks5.

By the end of the summer, they will no longer be needed by the colony. Honey bees are quite tolerant of fairly cool temperatures, but need reasonable weather conditions to forage, and of course, during the winter time, there is far less nectar and pollen available.

Drones do not collect pollen or nectar, and before winter sets in, those still alive will be elbowed out of the nest or hive by the workers, so that winter food resources are not drained!


Workers raised in the spring and summer have shorter, busier lives than those raised later in the season, and may live 6 or 7 weeks. This is the most productive time for the colony, with larvae to be fed, nectar and pollen to be gathered, and honeycomb to be built. Those raised in the autumn will have far less to do, with no brood to care for. Their main concern will be to survive the cold until the following spring. However, they may live 4 to 6 months.

Apis mellifera

Queen honey bees

Honey Bees Vs Bumble Bees

As weve already learned, only honey bees make honey. But we may not always differentiate between honey bees and other bees. The Bumble Bee is a common sight in North America. Like honey bees, theyre important pollinators, particularly for tomato and eggplant crops. However, their appearance and behavior are distinct.

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Life Cycle Of Honey Bees

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The life span of individuals varies among the different kinds of bees in the hive.

Queens typically live for the longest time. In good conditions, it is not unusual for one to live several years.

Drone bees live the shortest time in reference to days. Normally only present in the hive during the mating season, they rarely live more than a couple of months.

And the worker bees live about 6 weeks during the warm season. But regardless of the time they have to work for the colony, each one of these individuals start as an egg.

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The Cycle Of Reproduction

Reproduction with respect to colony is known as a swarm and usually occurs in the spring and summer. However, swarms can be more frequent in tropical areas, where the climate is more favorable throughout the year.

The estimation made by young bees on the abundance of resources , the size of the colony when it is large and the weather forecast are the main triggers for the generation of a new swarm.

How Long Do Worker Bees Live

Worker bees range in tens of thousands in a hive and do most of the work, including defending the beehive.

They take longer to transform in the larva and pupa stages than the queens, and after maturing, they spend their first weeks working in the hive before working outside collecting nectar and pollen. They will sting when they sense invasion.

Worker bees existing during spring or summer have the most work to do, which wears them out quickly. They build the honeycomb, feed larvae, store nectar, produce honey, and forage for food. These worker bees live for a short period, usually forty to sixty days.

The worker bees that emerge during the autumn time of year survive for a more extended period because of reduced work. The queen quits laying eggs therefore, there is no brood to support.

The workers clump around the queen to be warm throughout the winter period. Such bees can live up to six months. When spring comes, any survivors once again forage for pollen.

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What Is Known As The Colony Collapse Disorder

During 2006, the beekeepers began to notice the disappearance of large bee colonies and this abrupt disappearance of large colonies of bees was called Colony Collapse Disorder . There are several possible reasons for this disorder like climate change, genetically modified crops, usage of pesticides and even electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.

To explore more information on honey bees and apiculture, register by .

Put your understanding of this concept to test by answering a few MCQs. Click Start Quiz to begin!

Select the correct answer and click on the Finish buttonCheck your score and answers at the end of the quiz

Why The Life Cycle Is Important To Know

Life Cycle of a Honey Bee (FOR KIDS)

Understanding the life cycle of the bees and the roles they play are essential in assessing the health of your queen and colony. You are better able to identify issues that need to be addressed.

For example, if you dont see the queen but eggs are visible, you know the queen was laying within the past 3 days. If, on the other hand, you see empty cells and cant find her royal highness, your hive may be queenless.

Use the information you gather to address issues in the hive.

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How Long Do Bees Live

The bee life cycle differs between the castes - Worker bees live between 6 weeks and 6 months.- Drone bees live between 30 and 60 days.- The queen bee live between 3 and 6 years.

The bee life cycle is relatively short when compared to our own. But their lives are purposeful and productive as they pollinate plants and prepare the hive for the future. Within every colony, bees operate in three castes: queen, worker, and drone bees, each with different roles.

In a colony of bees, 99% are female worker bees who undertake the pollination the remainder includes one queen who lays eggs to populate the colony and supply the labor force and a few hundred male drones who have the sole function of servicing the queen to fertilize eggs.

Outside factors that influence the bee life cycle are habitat, climate, parasites, pesticides, and predators. Still, a colony of bees can exist for years, even though the roster of residents will change frequently.

Generally, a honey bee colony has a longer average lifespan than a bumblebee colony. If the hive becomes too crowded, a new queen may take a swarm of bees to a new location to form a new colony.

Life Cycle Of A Honey Bee


First, what IS a beehive?

A beehive is a place where bees live it is a structure that a bee colony calls home. A colony is the family unit consisting of a queen, worker bees and drones.


Honey bees have different roles and responsibilities within the hive:

  • The queen bee is the star of the hive. The largest bee in the colony, the queen is the only female bee with fully developed ovaries and is capable of laying eggs. She releases pheromones to regulate the colony.
  • The drone is a male honey bee. Drones make up about 10-15% of the colony. The primary focus for a drone is to mate with the queen. Drones compete with one another during the mating flight. Once a drone mates with a queen, it dies shortly after.
  • The worker bee keeps the hive functioning. Depending on its age, the worker bee will play different roles in the hive. A young worker bee acts as a nurse bee, nurturing and feeding bee larvae as well as processes nectar, feeds the queen, and makes and caps the honey. An older work bee is on foraging duty.


The life cycle of honeybees consists of four stages: eggs, larva, pupa and adult. This entire process varies lengthwise amongst the different honey bees. It takes about 16 days for the queen, 18 to 22 days for the worker bees and 24 days for the drones.

  • Anon . Honey bees. Available at:
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    What Is Bee Bread

    Bees produce food substances for worker bees and larvae in the form of bee bread. When the bee is out there collecting nectar, she also collects some amount of pollen and stores it in her hind legs also known as pollen baskets. This accumulation of pollen is brought to the beehive and mixed with the nectar to create the bee bread. Bee bread is stored in beehives and provides proteins for the honey bees.

    Why Honey Bees Are Important

    Life cycle of a honey bee vector illustration

    The honey bee is one of the most important pollinators in the world. In this article, we will discover the lifecycle of a Honey Bee. Pollination is how plants reproduce. Honey bees take pollen grains from a flowers anther to another flowers stigma. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, roughly one-third of the food we eat is the result of pollination from honey bees. These include delicious fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, cherries, pears, apples, carrots, avocados, and onions. Although honey bees represent only a tiny fraction of bee species, no other insect produces food that we eat.

    Worldwide, humans eat 1.5 million tons of honey each year. People also eat honey comb and royal jelly in much smaller quantities. Honey has an impressive nutritional profile. Although its mostly sugar, it contains many amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, too. Its the only food that contains pinocembrin, an antioxidant that may boost brain power.

    Honey also can slow the growth of bacteria, some fungi and viruses, which is why your mother recommends adding it to hot tea when youve got a sore throat!

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    What Is A Caste

    The technical definition of caste is a group of individuals of the same sex that behave similarly to each other but differently from other members of their sex.

    A good example in the honey bee colony is our female bees. Worker bees act like other worker bees but different than the also female queen honey bee. Therefore, workers and queens count as 2 separate castes.

    Drone bees are the males in the hive and they act like all the other drones. There is no different behavior within their group. They should not be considered a caste.

    Yet, most beekeeping books and materials count the drones as a caste of their own. This gives us a total of 3 in the colony. For the sake of simplicity, I will do the same in this article.

    Any chart outlining bee development is only a guide. Bee genetics and even temperatures can affect the time of the stages.

    ** Some resources include a pre-pupal stage between the larva and pupal phase. Dont be alarmed if you see slightly different numbers from the ones in this chart.

    How Is The Beehive Constructed By The Bees

    The young worker bees make the beeswax to make the beehive. The beeswax is made through eight paired glands in the abdomen region of the bee. These glands secrete liquid wax which turns hard when exposed to air. The bees keep the wax in their mouths in order to maintain the working condition of the wax which constructs the honeycomb.

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    Honey Bee Colony Life

    Unlike a bumble bee colony or a paper wasp colony, the life of a honey bee colony is perennial. The three types of honey bees in a hive are: queens , workers , and drones . Unlike the worker bees the drones do not sting. Honey bee larvae hatch from eggs in three to four days. They are then fed by worker bees and develop through several stages in the cells. Cells are capped by worker bees when the larva pupates. Queens and drones are larger than workers, so require larger cells to develop. A colony may typically consist of tens of thousands of individuals.

    While some colonies live in hives provided by humans, so-called “wild” colonies typically prefer a nest site that is clean, dry, protected from the weather, about 20 litres in volume with a 46 cm2 entrance about 3 m above the ground, and preferably facing south or south-east or north or north-east .

    Life Cycle Of Honeybee

    The Life Cycle of Honey Bees

    The life cycle of honey bees is divided into four stages: the egg, the larval, the pupal and the adult stage.

    Stage 1 The Egg Stage:

    Queen bee is the only bee in the colony who is capable of laying about 2,000 to 3,000 eggs in one day. The egg is positioned upright and falls on the side by the third day. The queen bee lays both fertilized egg and unfertilized egg. The fertilized egg develops into female bees or queen bees. The unfertilized egg hatches and male bees are born also known as drone bees.

    Stage 2 The Larval Stage:

    The difference between a worker and the queen bee is made three days after the egg transforms into larvae and six days after the egg is laid in the beehive. The royal jelly is fed to all the larvae, i.e., the female bees, the workers and the drone bees during their initial three days as larvae. The larva sheds skin multiple times throughout this stage. Later, the royal jelly is fed only to the female larvae, which eventually becomes a queen bee. Finally, the worker bees cover the top of the cell with beeswax to protect and facilitate the transformation of the larvae into a pupa.

    Stage 3 The Pupal Stage:

    Here the bee has developed parts like wings, eyes, legs and small body hair that physically appears close to an adult bee.

    Stage 4 The Adult Stage:

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    Variety Of Insect Development

    Among thousands of species of bees in the world, there is much variety. While they all go through the four stages of metamorphosis egg, larva, pupa and adult they are also different.

    Many gather nectar and pollen, but their nesting habits are different. For the honey bee colony, rearing thousands of young during the warm season is vital to a survival. It takes the efforts of many individuals to support the hive and prepare for Winter.

    Complete Honey Bee Life Cycle

    Honey bees are insects and go through several development stages to reach adulthood. Each phase of bee development contributes to a healthy adult honey bee. From its beginning as a egg laid by the queen until the last day of flight, the honey bee life cycle is designed to help each member contribute to colony life.

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    How Long Do Drone Bees Live

    Life Cycle of A Honeybee illustration Stock Vector Image &  Art

    Male drones take the longest to become adults. Their role is purely for reproduction purposes as they do not work apart from looking for virgin queens to mate. Mating happens away from the hive to reduce the chances of mating with their mother queen.

    Drones die shortly after a successful mating flight because the mating rips off their reproductive organs. Their life span ranges from 38 days until they mate.

    If the mating flight is unsuccessful and the fall season approaches, worker bees drive out drones from the hive to prevent feeding them over the winter months. Ultimately, they do not survive the coming low temperatures and hunger.

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    What Happens To The Honey Bee Colony

    Unlike bumble bee colonies, honey bee colonies can survive the winter, provided they have enough food resources, are able to keep sufficiently warm, and are free of diseases and predators.

    However, in the winter, colonies are smaller than in the summer: there are no drones, and perhaps part of the original colony left the hive to form a new colony and nest elsewhere.

    Some of the workers will also die naturally during the winter months, however, there may be up to 20,000 workers left, and a queen.

    The queen and the rest of the colony will form a winter cluster to keep warm during the cold months. There will be no brood to tend to, and no eggsare laid during this time.

    However, as the days begin to warm up, and the flowers begin to bloom, honey bees will begin to go out foragingagain, and the queen honey bee will begin to lay eggs.

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