Ol' Buffalo Beekeeping Page

Copyright 2002, 2017 by Blaine S Nay, Cedar City, Utah, USA
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The Life of the Honey Bee

Queen Bee Queen Cell Queen Cell
Hives usually have one queen bee who is the mother of all bees in the hive. She is the only fertile female in the hive. The queen cell is substantially larger than worker or drone cells. It resembles a peanut in size and appearance The queen cell is stocked with extra royal jelly, a rich food secreted by the worker bees. This boosts her growth and causes her to fully develop sexually.

Emerging Queem Worker Bee on Flower Pollen-laden Worker Bee
When mature, the new queen emerges from her cell. She'll hunt and attempt to kill any competitor queens and mate with one or more drones (inflight). The worker bee is also a female. Although capable of laying eggs, she does not normally do so. If she lays eggs, they will produce only drones. Bees can be yellow, black or gray depending on variety. This worker bee is returning from the field with a load of pollen on each hind leg.

Worker bees Drones Swarm
The workers care for the young, forage for food and water, build combs, and clean, heat/cool and defend the hive. The male honey bee is called a drone. He is the product of an unfertilized egg and therefore has only one set of chromosomes. When a hive becomes crowded, it raises a new queen, then half the bees leave with the old queen just before the new queen emerges from her cell.

Swarm Queen laying egg Eggs in cells
A mass of bees seeking a new home is called a swarm. They'll often assemble on a branch while scouts look for a permanent home. After the workers construct a comb, the queen inspects each cell. If satisfied, she backs into the cell to deposit an egg. The tiny white cylindrical objects are eggs. The queen can choose to lay fertilized (female) or unfertilized (male) eggs.

Larvae Larvae Larvae
When the egg is fully developed, the grub-like larva emerges. The larva continues to grow, never leaving the cell until mature. The shiny material is the royal jelly fed to the larvae.

Larvae Larvae Larvae
Larvae at varying stages of development. Larvae continuing to grow. Larvae nearing the end of the larval stage.

Larvae and pupae Larvae and pupae Pupae
Adult worker bees cap the cells to begin the pupa stage of development. Larvae and pupae in adjacent cells. Capped cells containing bee pupae.

Emerging worker Emerging worker Emerging worker
When the bee matures, she chews away the cell cap. Other workers inspect this newly emerging worker. New worker bee crawling out of its cell.

Emerging worker Emerging worker Emerging worker
She's almost out. Other workers in nearby cells are escaping too. Note that the new worker is hairier and lighter than her sisters. She'll darken quickly and her hairs will gradually wear away as she performs her duties.

Emerging worker Emerging workers Pupae & pollen
The role each worker plays is determined by age. The younger bees usually serve the hive by tending and feeding the larvae. Before she begins her duties, she'll got out for an orientation flight. Note the pollen storage in the top row of cells. Pollen provides the protein in the developing bee's diet.

Pollen Nectar Old comb
More pollen storage. Pollen is normally stored near the brood. This comb contains nectar. The bees will fan their wings to lower the moisture content. When satisfied with the viscosity, the workers will cover the honey with a cap of wax. This comb is much darker than the one in the previous picture. The wax is secreted by the workers and formed into cells. When new, it's a pale yellow. It darkens each time a cell is used to raise a new bee.

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Draper BeeCam

Ol' Buffalo Beekeeping Home Page

Terms for Beginning Beekeepers
Bee escape Not a jailbreak
Brood Does not mean "think deeply"
Cell Nothing to do with jail
Comb Not spelled or pronounced "cone" and does not improve hair
Draw comb Not done with pencil and paper
Excluder It is perfectly polite to do this
Foundation Not cement blocks holding up a house
Larva Term taught in high school biology but now forgotten
Pupa See larva
Queen cup Not for afternoon tea
Top bar Not topless bar
Rabbet Does not have long ears and fluffy tail
Splits Not a gymnastic term
Super Does not mean "wonderful!"
Thin surplus Not an oxymoron

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Ol' Buffalo Beekeeping Home Page

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