Honeybees are incredibly social beings, meaning they live in large groups, work together to maintain their hives, and continue growing as a colony. Interestingly, bees engage in various complex tasks not possible for solitary insects. Their communication, construction abilities, defense, and division of labor are some behaviors bees adapted to ensure successful existence. Explore how honeybees coordinate their work in the hive and work together for the greater good.
The Queen Bee
Every colony has one queen, and she’s the only fertile female; therefore, her primary role is to reproduce for the colony. She produces fertilized and unfertilized eggs and may lay up to 1,500 eggs per day. Her larger body helps her stand out from the rest of the bees, and her secondary function is exuding pheromones that work as a social glue. Interestingly, the quality and success of the colony depend on the queen’s ability to fulfill her two essential roles.
Drone bees are the colony’s males, and they typically only live for the spring and summer seasons. Their main function is to mate with new queens during their mating flights, and they don’t perform any other work to maintain the hive. They rely on the workers to feed them, and they can’t defend themselves, as they don’t have stingers. While their presence is significant for colony function, the workers often force them out to starve as the weather turns cold.
Worker bees are the smallest in size but are the largest group within the hive. Workers are sterile females, meaning they can’t produce eggs under normal conditions. However, the workers do everything else to maintain the hive and care for their queen. For instance, worker bees have specific glands and other structures to help them perform the work to keep the colony afloat.
Worker bees build and clean brood cells and honeycomb, guard the hive’s entrance, feed the brood, care for the queen, ventilate the hive, forage for pollen and nectar, and produce honey. Surprisingly, the average lifespan of worker bees is only six weeks. If you love the raw honey and honeycombs these worker bees help maintain, Crystal’s Honey has a wide variety of honey and natural honeycomb for sale online.
Understanding how honeybees coordinate their work in the hive is crucial for a beekeeper. Knowing the inner workings of your colony can help you scope out potential issues sooner and understand what’s normal and what’s not.