Honey Bees are fascinating creatures that are under threat, they exist in a very strict and cruel pecking order, but we wondered how a bee becomes a Queen. The Queen bee at the top, and tens of thousands of infertile female workers. Worker bees can live for up to 9 months if they are lucky enough to live through the winter but they are worked so hard that in summer when they are on their nectar collections, they can only live for about 6 weeks before dying from exhaustion.
The males are far fewer in number and are essentially robots, waiting to fulfil their life’s purpose of mating with the Queen, she also releases pheromones that turn all other females sterile so they can’t get action anywhere else.
Queen bees are the heads of the hives, producing all the young and making sure no other women can encroach on her turf. They can lay 2000 eggs per day and once mated with the males, tends to either kill or kick them out of the hive altogether. She is the ultimate dominatrix. Queens live for much longer than workers or drones but they do die, and when this happens, something has to be done to ensure a new queen takes her place as fast as possible.
Royal Jelly Makes a Queen
Worker bees produce a substance from their hypopharynx, a gland in their heads, and this is known as royal Jelly. Royal jelly is high in protein, containing a massive amount of vitamins that stimulate larval growth, along with hormones, lipids sugars, mineral and even acetylcholine which helps the brain tell various parts of the body to grow.
When the current queen bee dies or leaves the hive, workers very quickly choose a new larva to become the queen bee and don’t stop feeding it royal jelly when they stop feeding it to other larva. Because it is so rich in nutrients it causes the queen to grow much bigger and allows her to fully develop into the egg producing head of the hive. So she actually has her whole colony of slaves to thank for her existence.