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How do bees make a queen?

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Image copyright 2002, by David L. Green

   Workers and queens begin life the same way, as eggs that the queen deposits on the bottom of the honeycomb cells. Note that they are glued so that they stand on end. Drones also start similarly, except that a drone (male) bee develops from an unfertilized egg. The queen first measures the diameter of the cell. Smaller cells are used for workers. As the queen lays, she can open a valve, so that one or two sperm are released as the egg passes thru the oviduct. Thus the egg is fertilized and develops into a female, which can be a worker, or if specially chosen, a queen. When the queen measures a cell and it is a large size, the valve remains closed and the egg passes on out without being fertilized. It will then develop into a male.

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Image copyright 2002, by David L. Green  

   In about three days, the fertilized eggs hatch into larvae, as you can see curled in the bottom of the cells. Young adult worker bees secrete a nutritious milky fluid, called royal jelly, upon which the larvae float and eat. The larvae grow quickly. After three days, the royal jelly is no longer fed to larvae destined to be workers. Their diet changes to pollen and nectar or diluted honey.

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Image copyright 2002, by David L. Green  

   Soon the larvae are so big that they can no longer remain curled in the cell, like the larva in the center of this picture. She will soon stretch out along the length of the cell. The workers will fabricate a wax cap on the cell, like the cell just to her right, so the larva can pupate in peace. During pupation she will grow legs and wings and assume the adult body form.

I hate to be a nag, but what about the QUEENS?

Kutik's Honey Farm
285 Lyon Brook Rd. Norwich, NY  13815   607-336-4105, Fax: 607-336-4199
(February through May, we are usually in South Carolina 803-473-4205)

This page was last updated on February 4, 2012.