Life cycle of the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)

 

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Different cells are used for different castes:

About 5 mm across – workers

About 7 mm across, deeper with domed caps.  Usually on the edges where it is cooler  35°drones

Queen cell – not normally part of the comb – round and large.

 

Queen lays eggs in the bottom of the broodiest

The bee is in the egg for 3 days

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Larvae – bees go through five instars

Queen bees are larvae for 5 days and receive royal jelly each day. There is a specialized queen cell.

Worker bees are larvae for 6 days and receive royal jelly for 3 days.  They are placed in 5mm brood cells.

Drones are larvae for 6.5 days and receive royal jelly for 3 days and then a slightly more nutritious diet than workers for the remainder of the time.  They are placed in 7mm brood cells.

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Different instar in development and an egg

 

When larvae are ready to pupate they stand upright in the cell, void their digestive systems. At this point the house bees will cover the cell with a mixture of beeswax and propolis

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Pupating workers – with the cappings removed to show developmental stages.

A pupating drone

The period as a pupae varies with caste

Worker is a pupae for 12 days

Queen a pupae for 7.5 days

Done a pupae for 14.5 days

Thus total developmental time is:

Queen:    16 days

Worker:  21 days

Drone:  24 days

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Typical broodnest with both worker and drone brood.  Note the drone brood is on the cooler edge with the domed cells (arrowed)

Queen cells on a frame – note outside the main frame (arrowed).Sometimes workers appear to “play” with making queen cells

 


The workers life cycle:

1

Cell cleaning

bee working 1

           bee working 2

 

bee working 3

 

     bee working 4

 

bee working 5

2

3

Queen care – nursing (feeding young) and wax work

 

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5

6

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11

Wax work

Nectar processing

Guarding

Undertaking

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

Foraging:

Water

Nectar

Pollen

Colony defence (soldiering)

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24

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