The Roles of Honeybees in a Hive | Critter Control Tampa

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Honeybees are extremely organized, typically living in colonies consisting of a queen, hundreds of drones, and thousands of female worker bees. Because a bee colony is a superorganism, individual bees are unable to survive by themselves for any length of time. Therefore, the bees must perform their own required tasks, while at the same time, work with the other bees in their hive to ensure their survival.

The following explains the different roles and responsibilities of bees in a hive.

Queen Bee – The only member that can lay fertilized eggs, the queen helps to maintain a healthy colony by producing up to 2,000 eggs daily. Queen bees mate early in life, allowing millions of sperm to be stored within her body, giving her the option to fertilize the eggs whenever she chooses. While a queen bee can live up to 5 years, she usually stops producing eggs after 2-3 years, in which the hive begins taking steps to get a replacement.

Worker Bees – Though all worker bees are female, none of them can produce fertilized eggs. If no queen bee is present, worker bees can lay unfertilized eggs, which develop into male drones. The different job roles and duties worker bees are responsible for include:

  • Foragers – Around fourteen days old, worker bees leave the hive to search for nectar, water, pollen, and propolis. Each trip they make lasts about an hour and is usually four to five kilometers away. From sunrise to sunset, foragers can make about ten trips. However, most worker bees will die around 6-8 weeks while working away from the hive.
  • Cleaners – At just one or two days old, these worker bees clean the empty, brood cells in preparation for new eggs as well as store nectar and pollen.
  • Drones – Hatched from an unfertilized egg, the only job of a drone is to mate with the queen bee.
  • Undertakers – As worker bees age, they are responsible for taking dead bees away from their hive, disposing of their bodies as far as possible. They also eliminate diseased and dead broods before they can threaten the entire colony.
  • Nurses – Nurse bees care for the developing larvae and deposit nectar and pollen into the cells providing food for the colony.
  • Builders – At just twelve days old, worker bees are mature enough to secrete and make beeswax to construct the comb. However, they must consume large amounts of both honey and nectar to be able to produce the wax flakes.
  • Temperature Controllers – Temperature control, known as social homeostasis, is vital for ensuring bees survive the climate changes. When the weather is cold, thousands of bees will cling together on the combs in the nest. And as the temperatures rise, worker bees cool the colony by bringing water back to the hive and fanning their wings, helping to create air flow within the hive.
  • Guards – Once worker bees return to the hive after being on the field, guard bees look for a familiar scent to make sure they aren’t an intruder. Although, some guards take bribes of honey and pollen from foreigner bees. Guard bees also protect their colony from other insects. However, should they have to use their stinger to attack any intruder, they will rip their abdomen and die as a result.

While honeybees are fascinating creatures, having an excessive amount on your property can make gardening or other outdoor activities difficult. And, because bees are important to the ecosystem, we never recommend destroying a hive. Instead, let Critter Control® of Tampa safely relocate it to a more suitable area. If you have concerns regarding bumblebees in your yard, please call us today at 813-948-0870.

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