26Sep Mark Collins | Advice

Meeting her majesty

Most people don’t know this, but all bees are born equal. Despite the major physical differences between the queen, workers and the drones, every bee in the hive comes from an identical type of egg.

At the larval stage, the specially selected potential queens are fed a special substance called the “royal jelly”. Amazingly, this alters the bee’s genes and slowly transforms her into a queen.

Once she’s all grown up, our queen bee will become the largest member of the hive. She’ll measure around 2 cm, which is double the length of a worker. Drones come in at about 1,5 cm. Although it’s clear to see the difference between the queen and her subjects when side by side, the colony is often a busy space and it can be extremely tough to spot the queen amongst the chaos. Because of this, many beekeepers mark the queen with a dot of white paint on her thorax, differentiating her from the rest of the colony.

As the queen bee establishes her colony, she will lay up to 1000 eggs every single day. That’s one egg every 20 seconds. After 24 hours, she could potentially lay far more than her own body weight.

Apart from being significantly larger than workers, the queen bee’s day-to-day is vastly different from that of other members of the colony. While drones are protecting the hive and taking care of larvae, and workers are busy collecting pollen and nectar to sustain the growing community, our queen spends her days repopulating the hive, mating with drones and swarming to create new colonies.

Without the queen the colony has no direction, no structure and no way of growing. She really is the ruling force behind one of nature’s most incredible societies.

26Sep admin | Advice

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