Individual Life Cycles

The number of days in a bee’s developmental stage, is shown in the table below. The table shows the number of days spent as an egg, a larva and as a pupa plus the number of days taken to reach full maturity for all 3 classes of honey bee.

 

Number of Days

Egg

Larva

Pupa

Total Days to Adult

Days to Maturity

Queen

3

5

8

16

20

Worker

3

5

13

21

21

Drone

3

8

13

24

34

 

 

Workers Division of Labor

This table shows how labour is divided by workers according to the bees developmental stage. The activities are closely linked to the development of the bee’s glands and hence a bee’s level of maturity.

 

Age (days)

Activity

Development of Glands

0 – 6

Cell cleaning, general hive cleaning

3 – 9

Feeding the brood

Highly developed to produce brood food and royal jelly

3 – 15

Attending the Queen

6 – 18

Honey processing

Glands shrink but produce enzymes

12 – 20

Wax production & honey processing

Wax glands

15 – 25

Hive ventilation

18 – 35

Guard duty

Sting and nasanov glands for scent develop

20 – death

Nectar collection

20 – death

Pollen collection

25 – death

Water & propolis collection

 

Reproduction and Development

The queen controls the sex of her offspring. When an egg passes from her ovary to her oviduct, the queen determines whether the egg is fertilized with sperm from the spermatheca. A fertilized egg develops into a female honeybee, either worker or queen, and an unfertilized egg becomes a male honeybee, or drone.

The queen lays the eggs that will develop into more queens in specially constructed downward-pointing, peanut-shaped cells, in which the egg adheres to the ceiling. These cells are filled with royal jelly to keep the larvae from falling and to feed them.

Worker bees are raised in the multi-purpose, horizontally arranged cells of the comb. Future workers receive royal jelly only during the first two days, compared to future queens, who are fed royal jelly throughout their larval life. This difference accounts for the great variation in anatomy and function between adult workers and queens.

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