Most people never give a thought to the interesting and intricate honey bee life cycle. They just think of the Honeybee as the honey making flying insect. The honey bee queen lays all the eggs in the beeswax combs built by worker bees.
There are three types of bee, the worker, queen and drone. Each is very different, both in their physical makeup and their behavior.
When someone comments about a bee such as, “Oh! Look at him collecting pollen from that flower.”, I like to reply, “She!”
The offender gives me a funny look, thinking, “he’s either weird or has incredible eyesight”. Although the first thought may be true, the second isn’t. It’s just that almost all the bees you see are females.
Male bees, drones, never collect pollen or nectar. Much to the disgust of the ladies out there, they never do a stroke of work. Their only purpose is to mate with the queen!
If the males reading this think that sounds great, you might read further about the life of a honey bee drone.
Most people will probably never see the queen bee. She usually only leaves the hive a couple of times in her life, to mate. If the colony swarms, she will leave, along with a proportion of the worker bees. I have sometimes seen the queen amidst the 15,000 – 20,000 bees in a swarm when I’m hiving them, but it is fairly unlikely since she is only slightly larger than the workers.
The worker bee is by far in the majority. Probably 99% of all the bees in the hive in the summer will be workers and this rises to almost 100% in the fall. Obviously the worker bee is aptly named since she has a series of seemingly never ending tasks.
Throughout her life she progresses from one job to another, although despite the old expression about being busy, they do sometimes seem to take a rest and just ‘hang out’.