When Honey Bee Lay Eggs: Reproduction in Honey Bees

Honey bees are divided into three groups as worker bees, drones, and the queen bee. While worker bees undertake all of the works within and outside the hive, drones and the queen bee take part in the reproduction process of the honey bees. Drones fertilize the queen bee, and then the queen bee starts to lay eggs. After a while, the eggs hatch and new honey bees join the colony.

We can summarize the developmental process of the queen bee as follows: it hatches from the egg on day 3. It is a larva from day 3 to day 8, then becomes pupa from day 9 until emergence which takes place between days 15 and 17. Between days 20 and 24, there is nuptial flight(s), where the queen bee is fertilized by drones. And after day 23, the queen bee starts to lay eggs all over the hive.

After How Many Days Does the Queen Bee Lay Eggs

According to normal conditions, the newly born queen goes on a mating flight or a tour of the environment after all the conditions occur (approximately three days after getting out of the breast) and after feeding herself in the hive. The queen bee can mate when she goes on this flight, or she can mate by going out a few times.

Depending on the seasonal conditions, the laying time of the queen bee is as follows;
1) It starts laying eggs in approximately 7-11 days in May-June.
2) In July, it starts laying eggs in 10-15 days on average.
3) Bees start spawning in 10 to 25 days towards the end of August. These times will differ according to the weather conditions and the number of drones.

The queen on the mating flight mates with 7 to 10 drones and fills the sperm sac and returns to the hive. After removing the bee sting in front of the hive, it enters the hive. The queen who cannot go on the mating flight due to adverse weather conditions may delay this period for 10 or 12 days. Unable to mate until the end of this period, the queen becomes unfertilized, and either does not lay eggs or lay male eggs and cause male offspring.

After the queen starts spawning, the slats attached to the raw honeycomb begin to swell quickly. The queen does not lay eggs in the eyes with a drop of honey. Queen bees lay eggs better on empty and clean combs. As can be seen, the queen spawning period can change according to the seasonal conditions.

Honey Bee Reproduction: An Example of Parthenogenesis

It is called parthenogenesis that the unfertilized egg develops and forms a new individual. Parthenogenesis occurs in bees, ants, aphids, water fleas, some grasshoppers, some butterflies, and some lizard species. Parthenogenesis in bees is summarized as follows. The queen bee lays her eggs first and then leave the sperm from her previous mating in the sperm sac on the honeycombs.

If the sperm cannot be fertilized with the egg, the unfertilized eggs begin to develop by mitosis. This phenomenon is called haploid development. Male bees with n chromosomes are formed from egg cells that develop from haploid. In fact, the reproductive cell of male bees with N chromosomes is not formed by meiosis but formed by mitosis.

In other words, if we briefly summarize the event, the egg cell undergoes mitosis, and the bee creates a sperm cell by mitosis. Fertilized eggs become female bees, but they cannot produce eggs. If the female bees are fed with royal jelly when they are a zygote in the honeycomb, the queen bee is formed. Only queen bees can produce eggs.

Honey Bees: Reproduction, Egg Laying, and Swarming

The reproduction of honey bees begins after the queen’s egg lays in the honeycomb eyes after the mating flight. When the queen is going to lay eggs, it inserts her head inside the honeycomb cell and thus controls the cell. Then it hangs the tail side into the cell. In this case, it stops for a few seconds without moving. When it pulls his body out again, it lays an egg on the bottom of the cell. The queen leaves its eggs between the cells so that there are no empty cells. This is essential for the easy care of the eggs. Honeycomb eyes have two different sizes: worker bee eyes and drone eyes. The queen bee eyes are not included in the main honeycomb structure, they are added later.

Eggs remain in the cell for three days. On the third day, the eggs are cracked, turning into larvae, a small maggot. Larvae are fed with royal jelly for the first three days and honey and pollen for the next three days. Within six days, the larval stage closes. During this time, the weight of the egg will increase 1000 times, maybe more. Until this stage, the mouth of the honeycomb eye is open. On a ninth day, the comb chamber where the larva is located is filled with honey and pollen and closed. The weight of 1500 eggs laid in one day is the weight of the queen.

A white, worm-shaped offspring (larvae) emerge from the bee egg. It has no head, eyes, wings, and legs. In other words, it is not like a bee in any way. A bee larva forms the pupa after it grows sufficiently. The larva has now passed to the pupa stage. At this stage, with a substance he produces, he knits a cocoon in his cell and traps himself here. Bee larvae make a transition to the pupal stage in this way. The body undergoes major changes in the pupa. The material they knit as a cocoon has a special structure. After these changes are completed, the pupa detonates its shell. With this last skin change, the bee emerges with wings.

Eggs Become Larvae, Larvae Become Pupas

Double-sided silk glands in the heads of bee larvae are very useful. The feature of this substance they produce is hardening as soon as it comes into contact with air. Another feature is that it is a strong bactericidal and anti-infection due to the protein called “fibroin”. Scientists conducting research on bees estimate that these creatures are protected from germs thanks to the cocoon they knit. The net used for knitting the cocoon is made up of a mixture of different chemical substances in certain proportions. The formula of this silk, which the bee larvae knit into cocoons, is the same in every bee.

The bee, which has undergone changes in the pupal stage, completes this phase in about 12 days; gnawing the cell cover and comes out. When it first came out, it was weak, wet and dull. Then it gets stronger in 2-3 days with the care of the nannies, gets its true color and fluff. The time elapsed between the egg state of the worker bee and the adult bee is approximately 21 days. The queen bee lays the drone eggs into drone cells with a width of about 6.91 mm. The only difference between drone eggs and worker bee eggs is that drone eggs are not fertilized. Looking at the enclosed drone eyes, they appear more swollen than worker bee cells.

The development process of drones is the same as that of worker bees, but its duration is 24 days. Queen bee lays eggs in the cells, usually just before the swarming season. The reproduction of the queen bee is not a spontaneous process. It depends on the decision of the colony and some developments. The colony’s desire to produce a new queen is generally based on 3 reasons:

Reasons for Needing a New Queen Bee

The first reason is the colony’s desire to swarm. When the swarming season approaches, worker bees expand some of the cells at the bottom of the honeycomb to produce new queen bees; They make a thimble with a length of 20-25 mm, a width of 8 mm. This ferrule, called queen bee eye, is not included in the basic structure of the honeycomb. It is created by extending and stretching worker bee eyes outwards. The second reason is that the queen is lost. Worker bees, urgently making queen thimbles in the loss of queen bee for any reason; they bring the new queen to the colony.

The third reason is the desire to replace the queen bee because it is aging. When the queen bee grows old and loses the power to leave the minimum egg that the colony can survive into the cells, the colony decides to replace this queen. The number of queen thimbles, which are made to swarm, is generally 10-15. The ferrules made to replace the queen are around 2-4. It is located at the bottom of the frames, in the hidden corners, to hide the thimbles for the swarm from the queen bee. The ferrules made for replacing queen bees are located in the middle of the frame, in areas where there is plenty of brood.

The egg in the queen cell is no different from the other worker bee eggs. Eggs will hatch after 3 days. Larvae are fed with royal jelly for 6 days continuously. The difference arises from this feed. Worker and male bees are fed with lower quality royal jelly. In the same period, royal jelly given to worker bee larvae is around 15 mg. On the other hand, approximately 500 mg royal jelly is given to queen bee larvae. Continuously feeding larvae are stopped on a ninth day with the inside of the cell filled with royal jelly. After 7 days, and at the end of 15 days, the queen moves out of the cell by piercing its cover.

Swarming in a Honey Bee Hive

Spring, when flowers bloom and plenty of food, is a season in which bees also develop the most. The rapid development of the larvae urges the queen to lay more eggs. This ensures that the bees multiply, which is the strengthening of the bee community. However, it should not be understood from this that new bee societies were formed. Because every bee society, with its single queen, is a state in itself. However, new bee populations must also be formed. A new bee society needs a queen. This is only possible if the bees swarm.

The propensity to swarm is associated with queen bee pheromone. Secretion decreased in elderly queen bees. Overheating of the hive by the Sun also encourages swarming. Preparation for swarming takes place in great calm. Often in May, workers make several queen chambers. They raise the young queen with a special feeding in it. To swarm, a queen is enough. However, bees raise several queens, considering the possibility of a single queen dying. In colonies willing to swarm, the queen is no longer given abundant food. The reason for this is to ensure that it can fly while swarming. In fact, the queen bee is pushed and swept by worker bees and chased after on honeycombs. So it prepares for long flights. Nectar and pollen collection slows down as well.

A week before the new queen leaving the cell, the bee community leaves the hive. Here again, the process of swarming begins with the workers. A few days before the workers leave the hive, they quit their jobs, and if their communities are crowded, they gather in front of the hive’s flying hole. After that, as if they had all decided, with great excitement, they attack the honey chambers of the hive and fill their stomachs with honey. As a result of this nutrition, some of the bellies are so swollen; the body loses their flexibility. They cannot use their needles. They do not have time to wander the flowers for food. They have to find a new shelter for themselves.

After that, they all come out of the flying hole all the time and draw circles, slowly rising into the air like a cloud. Along with these, the former queen leaves the hive. The queen, who manages the new ensemble with her scent, chooses any tree branch or similar place. Watching bees fly away a few days before the swarm, looking for a suitable home for them. When they find such a place, they mobilize the son society towards the new place found and settle in the newly found home.

If the bee community gives sons only once, after leaving the first queen, the chambers of the other queens are destroyed by worker bees. If the bee community will give the second son, then the workers will survive other young queens. However, they cannot get out of their rooms. Because the ruling queen will want to kill them. The queens only get their hoses out of the small hole of their chamber and are fed by the workers. Meanwhile, the ruling queen makes a unique voice. Imprisoned queens respond with a similar voice. This sound echoes out of the closed chambers. As long as these voices are heard, they do not come out of the chambers where they are trapped.

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Savaş Ateş

I like eating honey a lot. We have a huge interest in bees and how they make honey. I have visited honey farms. I have talked to a lot of honey sellers. I read a lot of books about them. I want to share my knowledge with you.

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