Have you ever tasted honey? Honey is made by bees. Hard to believe those tiny buzzing insects can make something so delicious. Let’s explore the life cycle of bees and see how much work goes into making honey.
Life Cycle of a Bee: Eggs and Larva
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘busy as a bee?’ Do you know what it means? In this lesson, we’ll look at the stages of the bee’s life cycle to find out what makes bees so busy.There are three types of bees: queens, workers, and drones. Each lead different lives, but they all start as eggs. A single, long, white egg is laid inside a beehive cell or small honeycomb hole.
The eggs are tinier than a single grain of rice. About three days pass before they hatch.Once hatched, bees stay in their cells and begin the larva stage. The larva looks like a small, white worm. Larvae are like hungry babies that need to be cared for all day and night long. They are fed royal jelly, a special white fluid made by worker bees. After a couple days of royal jelly, the larvae are fed beebread.
This isn’t actually bread, just a mix of honey and pollen.Toward the end of this stage, the bee’s cell is capped with wax. It’s like closing the door to your bedroom.
This allows the bee to enter the next stage of its life.
The Pupa and Adult Bee Stages
After one to two weeks, larvae enter the pupa stage. While inside the closed cell, the bee begins to pupate. This is the process of transformation from a worm-like larva into a flying adult bee.
Once the bee completes transformation and has a body, head, and wings, it is ready to emerge from its cell.When the pupa leaves its cell, it is officially an adult bee. It’s like college graduation for bees! It’s during this stage that the three types of bees lead very different lives. They each have specific jobs to make sure the hive stays strong and healthy.
Types of Bees
If a hive is in need of a queen bee, the worker bees will give an egg extra royal jelly to create a new queen. When the queen bee enters the adult stage she immediately flies out of the hive to mate. She will look for a drone to mate with and will fly back to the hive.
Each hive generally has one queen bee who has an important job: she lays every single egg. Queen bees only need to mate once and can then lay 1,000-2,000 eggs a day and live up to five years.Drone bees are all male and enter the adult stage with only one job: to mate with a queen. Drones fly out of their hive looking for queen bees and asking worker bees for food.
In the winter time drones get kicked out of the hive because they don’t help make food and are too hard to keep fed.Worker bees are likely the reason for the phrase ‘busy as a bee.’ Most of the 20,000-80,000 bees in a hive are worker bees. Worker bees are all female and enter the adult stage ready to take on jobs around the hive. They immediately begin feeding the pupae or cleaning and building new cells.
After a few weeks working in the hive, they can fly and search for pollen from flowers. They collect this pollen to make honey for their fellow bees. A single worker bee will only make about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its entire life. That’s really just a few drops of honey!
Bees live through four stages of life: the egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages. Larvae are fed royal jelly to help them grow. During the pupa stage bees pupate, or transform, into flying adult bees.
Queen bees lay all the eggs, male drone bees try to mate with a queen bee, and female worker bees carry out most of the jobs around the hive and are responsible for making honey.