Bees are responsible for contributing to the food chain, and it is all because of the Queen. Queen bees have royal secrets, and beekeepers understand their relevance, importance, and how critical they are to a beehive’s survival. It is no wonder that every other bee in the beehive is wholly dedicated to protecting the Queen and getting her what she needs at any cost. The queen bee's life parallels that of the late Queen of England in that she receives royal treatment and calls the shots during her reign. Here are some buzzing and surprising tidbits about the queen bee and her subjects.
The Queen Sets the Mood
The queen bee of every beehive sets the mood of the entire colony. If the Queen is happy, the beehive is happy. If the Queen is fussy, the energy in the hive shifts to match hers. The Queen controls the other bees with her pheromones and is what unites the bees in her care. The queen bee is undoubtedly the royal guest.
If a wasp or hornet attempts to invade the beehive, the Queen's bees will surround it and overheat it to death. Protect the Queen at all costs is the individual and group mentality of each bee and beehive!
The Queen’s One Job
The Queen has one job, and that is to lay eggs. She mates once at the beginning of her reign, and this mating ritual takes place in flight! The maiden flight is the one time the Queen collects enough sperm for her lifetime.
A queen bee may lay 3,000 eggs in a day, which seems impossible, but it is true. Since the queen bees' one job is to lay eggs and keep the colony growing, she does not do anything else. The queen bee gets royal treatment from all other bees, including being fed by worker bees, cleaned up after by worker bees, and making sure she has everything she needs at all times.
A Short Reign for The Queen Bee
The most crucial job in the beehive is only a short reign. Initially, queen bees have strong pheromones to emit and plenty to go around. As one can imagine, over time, this pheromone diminishes, and she is able to lay fewer and fewer eggs as time passes. Unfortunately, although the queen bee is critical and treated as royalty during her reign, once she can’t perform her task (laying eggs) well, she is replaced without a thought. The hive's behavior is to prepare a new queen, so the beehive doesn’t experience a slump in new eggs.
Royal Food for Royal Bee Babies
Some do not know that queen bees are not born of royalty but instead made. Baby eggs are fed a royal jelly, unlike the rest of the eggs. Regular baby bee eggs are fed honey and pollen, whereas a few eggs are fed royal jelly, which helps them develop ovaries so they can reproduce. Because there may be multiple baby potential queen eggs being fed royal jelly to ensure an heir to the beehive throne, once the Queen is determined, she must kill her competing siblings and mom (I know, tragic!).
Queen Bees’ Can Really Stick It To Ya’
Queen bees, unlike the worker and drone bees, can sting multiple times. However, instead of a raging and temperamental queen stinging for fun, these multiple stings are for the purpose of getting rid of the competition of rival queen bee eggs.
Not All Baby Bee Eggs Are Created Equal
The Queen will lay fertilized and unfertilized eggs in her short reign, which is typically around two years. The eggs that the Queen lays that are fertilized will become new worker bees or maybe the next Queen. The unfertilized eggs will become drones and have their own purpose and value to the beehive. Every egg the Queen bee lays is essential to the beehive's overall health.
When a Beehive Cramps the Queen’s Style
It is common, and some say a good sign, when the Queen bee swarms. Swarming is behavior that happens when a beehive becomes too crowded, which is a positive thing! When this happens, the Queen will take some drones with her to find a new home, and this group is called the swarm. Although it doesn't sound like much, these swarms may consist of thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of bees. When the Queen vacates the beehive, a new queen will take over.
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BEE Biology and BEE-heavior
Understanding the behaviors and biology of bees is fascinating. Local beekeepers, like D-Tek, always encourage people to know more about bees and how they help us. If you have encountered a beehive on your property that concerns you, contact D-Tek for professional bee technicians with training and experience to find a quick solution and help get those bees safely removed and relocated.