Honeybee Life Cycle: Stages, Phases & Reproduction
A bee, very much like a butterfly, undergoes four stages to complete one life cycle. In chronological order, they are egg, larva, pupa and adult.
Types of Bees
- The queens who are the only female bees with the capabilities to produce eggs.
- The drones, which mate with new queens. They have no stingers.
- The worker bees which collect food for the colony. These include non-reproducing females.
The queen then lays a single egg in each cell of the honeycomb. It is said that a queen lays approximately 2000 eggs per day! She mates with the drones who die soon after.
Once an egg is laid, the larva inside begins to grow. It takes four days for this egg to hatch into a white legless larva. Fertilized eggs will eventually become worker bees while the unfertilized eggs develop into drones or future queen bees.
Worker bees feed the larva a mixture called royal jelly and bee milk for the next two days. The larva shed their skin four or five times as they grow. On about day nine, the larva will stop eating and spin itself a cocoon and begin to take the form of a pupa, much like a caterpillar! This cocoon is sealed into the cell by the worker bees.
In the pupa stage of their life cycle, the bees begin to develop legs, eyes and wings. When the bees reach a stage of maturity, they chew their way out of the cell and emerge as adults. This stage takes around 10 to 23 days, depending on the type of bee it will become.
The adult stage is the final stage of metamorphosis for the bee. It is now fully grown. A new queen bee is born to replace a dying queen or she will leave the colony to start her own.
A queen bee lays approximately 2000 eggs per day. The worker bees then feed the larvae. It is the worker bees who decide which larvae should become drones and which should become prospective queens.
They do this by feeding a few selected larvae, a special honey bee secretion called ‘Royal Jelly’. These special larvae then develop into future queens
Can you find out more about Royal Jelly, how it is made and its benefits for humans?
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