Mecklenburg County Beekeepers Assoc. of Virginia

Queen, Workers and Drones

Queen

This is the most important bee in the hive. She is the mother of all the bees. She is the only one that can lay eggs. The queen lays about 2,500 eggs a day. She produces a pheremone which attract bees to her, this allows them to care for her. There is only one queen to a hive; for there can not be two or they will fight to the death, possibly the hive will also swarm. It takes about seventeen days for a queen to hatch from an egg to grow to a full grown queen. She is fed a special food called royal jelly which is high in protein. Once a young queen hatches out, her first job is to get rid of all the other young queens before they emerge from their cells. The young queen then takes an orientation flight about five days after she hatches out.  On this flight she learns the location of the hive. Then she goes on her mating flight. During this flight she mates with 15 to 20 drones, then she returns to her hive. Here she starts laying a few days after her return.  This is the only time she leaves the hive except possibly to swarm.

 Workers

This is the one that does all the work around the hive. They do not lay eggs. Their main function is to gather nectar and pollen for the hive. They also care for the queen and young bees. They will guard the hive against any other bees or enemies that may cause harm to the hive. The worker lives for about six weeks during the summer.  They clean the hive and make honey. It takes about twenty-one days for the worker to grow from egg to adult bee.   The worker is the only bee that can sting. An average colony may have up to 50 to 60 thousand bees in it during the spring and summer.

Drones

This fellow does nothing but mate with the young queens. He is the only bee that can go from hive to hive and does not get stung. He has no stinger and his only pupose in life is to mate so he is allowed to move from hive to hive. It take the drone bee twenty-four days to hatch out from egg to adult bee. Their cells looks like bullets and can be found in the corner of the comb. He lives until the fall. The workers push them out of the hive because they will eat too much honey.  A hive could starve if the drones were allowed to eat honey until spring.