Evolution of Honey Bees
Honey bees have been around for at least 8,000 years. They live socially within the same nest, gather pollen and nectar, and produce honey. To reach adulthood, they go through four development stages - egg, larva, pupa and adult.
- After laying eggs, the queen bee entrusts the nursing of the larva to the worker bees. Bees are holometabolous insects and the eggs appear to be white and transparent.
- Hatching of an egg to larvae takes about three days. For the first three days, all honey bee larvae are fed with royal jelly, then honey and bee pollen on the latter six days. These are the worker bees. As for larvae fed with royal jelly exclusively, they will transform themselves to queen bees.
- Cells are capped by worker bees when larva pupates. A queen bee takes 7 days to develop into adulthood, a drone takes 14 days and a work bee needs 12 days.
- Newly enclosed bees are darker in colour and will bite their way out of the cocoon. They will first roam about in the hive and once they find the cell, they will suck on the honey. On the other hand, the worker bees will start being industrious.
The Bee Roles
The Matriarch - Queen Bee
Usually the largest in the hive, there is only one queen bee in a colony. As the most pampered and respected member of the hive, she is to reproduce but never to nurture.
The Male Specimen - Drone
A drone, a male honey bee is smaller than a queen bee but larger than a worker bee. There are usually 600 to 800 of those in a hive. Their sole purpose is to fertilise the queen bee and nothing else.
The Diligent - Worker Bee
A worker bee, the smallest but most abundant in a hive, is any female bee that lacks the full reproductive capacity of the queen bee. They take on jobs ranging from nectar gathering, pollen packing, honey sealing to nursing, cell cleaning, honeycomb building and queen guarding.
On the 15th day, a queen bee will become sexually mature and ready for mating in flight.
Whena queen flies into a drone congregation area, many drones will chase her up to a certain height. Gradually, the weaker drones will fall behind, and the stronger few who can catch up get to mate with her until her sperm theca is filled.
The stored sperm can be used for a lifetime. Therefore, a queen may remain in the hive to reproduce and gives birth to up to 3,000 eggs per day and up to 200,000 eggs annually.