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The life of bees

How is a bee colony made up?

The honey bee is an insect that lives in an organized society called a colony, almost like a big business. Each colony has a queen, worker bees and drones.

The queen has a longer body than the other bees, she is the only one to lay eggs, because she secretes pheromones which succeed in blocking the reproductive function in the other bees of the hive (the workers).

Male bees that mate with the queen are called drones. The young queen must necessarily be fertilized by males to be able to lay eggs. It was during the nuptial flights, 6 days after her birth, that she left the hive and mated with drones. The queen bee will then store all the seeds in her "spermathèque" which will allow her to fertilize eggs throughout her life. Laying will be the main activity of his life. 

Drones live for about a month and a half, they have a reproductive role. They are normally removed from the hive when the breeding season has passed.

The worker bees are responsible for raising the next queen. This one, when it is born will kill the others before they leave their cell. A colony cannot function with several queens.

abeille ouvrirère - royale - faux bourdons

What are the differences between a royal bee and a worker bee?

The most glaring difference between a royal bee and a worker bee is the food that will be given to the larvae. The worker bees will be fed only during the first three days of their life by royal jelly, then by a mixture of honey and pollen, they will live a few weeks, the time to pass the winter, while the royal bees will be fed royal jelly during their whole life, that is to say four or five years.

Larve Gelée Royale

What are the different roles of the worker bee?

Worker bees make up the majority of the hive, about 90%. These occupy several roles during their short life which will evolve as they exist and their physiological maturation:

- Cleaner: the bee cleans the alveoli that will host brood or resources such as honey

- Nurse: As said before, the bee feeds the eggs and the growing larvae. The nanny can make up to 1,300 visits per day to a single larva

- Help the queen: the bee must take care of the well-being of the queen bee because she cannot feed herself, hydrate or clean herself

- Wax making: the bee builds honeycomb rays thanks to the wax it produces on the inside of its abdomen

- Ventilating: this role requires a lot of energy, the bee must circulate the air in the hive to control the temperature (which must not exceed 36 ° C) and the humidity.

- Guardian: she is the one who defends the hive. She is posted at the entrance to the hive, like a vigil, verifying identities and protecting the colony from its enemies to avoid being looted.

- Forager: She goes back and forth between the flowers and the hive to bring back the loot: nectar, pollen, propolis and water, essential for the survival of the colony. A forager makes between 10 and 100 trips per day, depending on the proximity of the flowers. It’s a demanding work that will make them die of exhaustion.

reine des abeilles - ruches


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