Honeybee Baby Bees in the Nursery
Don't you love cute fuzzy little baby bees?
A bee's life begins with four stages.
The Nurse Bees, who are worker bees, prep for the new brood.
They build small honeycomb cells for baby worker bee eggs and larger cells for baby drone eggs.
Then the busy worker bees spotlessly clean a “nursery room” or honeycomb cell for the new baby bee.
The Queen lays a fertilized egg in a smaller cell if she wants a worker bee baby, or an unfertilized egg in a larger cell if she wants a baby drone.
She inspects each cell and if it isn’t immaculate she will pass it by for a perfectly clean hexagonal cell.
Is it a girl who will be a queen or a worker? Is it a boy who will be a drone?
In Honeybee World, it is almost always a girl. Boys are rarer by far.
No matter which it is, the process always takes the same amount of time from egg to adult:
Queen takes 16 days
Worker girls take 21 days
Drone boys take 24 days
STAGE 1: EGG
The Queen lays a tiny wee bee egg. It’s the size of a grain of rice, so look hard or you may miss it! It stands anchored on one end instead of lying in the cell, like a tiny luminous white balloon.
STAGE 2: LARVA (LARVAE)
After 3 days the egg transforms into a snowy white larva and grows fast. All curled up, it grows to fill the cell, eating the equivalent of 1,300 meals daily! The Nurse Bees provide royal jelly for the first three days followed by bee bread, a mixture of pollen and honey. 5 days later, the larva is more than 1500 times its initial size, and the Nurse Bees cover the cell with a beeswax cap. Think of a baby being tucked into a crib with a soft warm blanket.The larva is sealed in and spins a cocoon around itself.
STAGE 3: PUPA (PUPAE)
Now the larva has become a pupa. Here is where the magic happens, although due to the wax seal we can’t observe it. The worker bee pupa transforms into a baby bee, developing eyes, wings and legs, as colors start emerging and hairs grow to make the baby bee look fuzzy. 12 days into her journey, at a moment only she knows, the new honeybee worker bee chews through the wax.
STAGE 4: ADULT HONEYBEE WORKER BEE
Baby bee is now an adult, and she emerges from her cell to join her honeybee family in the busy life of the hive.
Here is a short video of a Queen bee's birth path.
The Life Cycle of the Honeybee Queen