All About the Queen of the Hive

With March 8th being International Women's Day, we thought we'd share some fascinating facts about the most important female within a hive colony - the Queen honey bee...

Queen Bee Facts 

  • The only one of her kind, the queen bee is the largest bee in the colony. She has an average lifespan of 2-5yrs, in comparison to the six-week lifespan of a worker bee.
  • A colony's survival relies solely upon the presence of a healthy functioning queen. When worker bees detect the colony has become queenless, they will build queen cells to create a new queen.
  • A queen bee mates just once in her lifetime, stores up to 6 million sperm from multiple drone bees and lays around 1,000-2,000 eggs a day. Once she reaches the end of her reproductive role, she will be replaced.
  • Although the "mother" of a colony and fiercely protected, the rules of the hive are made solely by the worker bees (even that of her own survival).
  • Any fertilised egg has the potential to become a queen. To become a queen bee, the larvae is fed an exclusive diet of royal jelly. It is diet that determines whether a fertilised egg will become a queen or a worker bee.
  • With the queen being so busy laying eggs, she has a group of attendants - these loyal servants follow her around all day, feeding and cleaning her and seeing to her every need.
  • Unlike worker bees, the queen does not leave the hive to collect nectar and pollen. The queen bee will leave the hive only to be mated and to swarm.
  • Each queen has her own unique smell (pheromones); by which all the other bees within the colony recognise her.
  • Due to her weight, when a colony decides it is time to swarm (find a new home), the queen bee's diet will be restricted until she has lost enough weight for her to be able to fly.
  • Like worker bees, the queen bee has a stinger, but she uses this stinger to kill other queen bees before they emerge from their queen cells - as there can only be ONE Queen Bee!