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Roles of Bees in the Hive

The inside of a honey bee hive is a strict hierarchy that the entire colony relies on. From the royal queen bee to the drones that are kicked out at the end of the year, each honey bee plays its part in keeping the hive safe, healthy, and strong. Explore the roles of bees in the hive with this guide.

The All-Important Queen

You’ve heard of the queen bee before, but what does she actually do? A hive’s queen sits at the top of the bee hive hierarchy—and for good reason. She is the only honey bee capable of laying eggs properly. A healthy queen lays more than her body weight in eggs every day. She’s also the only bee who can lay the fertilized eggs that grow into female worker bees. Without the queen, there is no healthy brood, which means there is no growing bee population. Queenless honey bees often become aimless, aggressive, or depressed, causing the hive to quickly fail without a new queen.

The Hard-Working Worker Bees

Female honey bees are known as worker bees, and they make up the vast majority of a colony’s population. Worker bees are responsible for everything around the hive. They collect nectar and pollen, feed the brood, clean the hive, care for the queen, and protect the colony from threats. Worker bees will also raise a new queen if their queen is unhealthy or unproductive. This process involves placing fertilized eggs in unique wax shelters called queen cups and feeding them royal jelly so that they grow into queen bees rather than worker bees. The first queen that hatches will kill the others and become the colony’s new queen.

The Drones

Drones, which are male honey bees, don’t play a direct part in the honey bee colony’s organization. They don’t collect food, care for the queen or brood, or guard the hive. Instead, their sole purpose is to mate with a queen. This happens during a mating flight when thousands of drones from different colonies gather to mate with a queen. The drones die after mating, and the queen then returns to her colony, now able to lay fertilized eggs. Honey bee colonies force out any drones still in the hive at the end of the productive season so that they don’t take up precious resources once winter hits.

Understanding the different roles of bees in the hive gives you a better idea of who you’re working with every time you inspect your colonies. Learn more about the fascinating life of honey bees and find the resources you need to keep your hives thriving when you visit The B Farm today.
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