Abstract: The process of growth cycle of honey bees can be divided into four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. These different phases start at different intervals depending on the days after hatching the eggs by queen bee in the cell. The overall process of growth from egg to adult is almost similar in all the casts means in egg laying queen bees, sperm-producing male drones and female worker bees. However, the time varies for them. It is 24 days for drones, 21 days for worker bees and 16 days for queen bee.
The life cycle of all insects, including honey bees, begins with eggs. Queen forms a new colony by laying eggs within each cell inside a honeycomb. Fertilized eggs will hatch into female worker bees, while unfertilized eggs will become drones or honey bee males. In order for one colony to survive, the queen must lay fertilized eggs to create worker bees, which forage for food and take care of the colony. The development cycle (metamorphosis) of queen bee starts with hatching or lying of eggs by queen bee in the hexagonal shaped cells of hive. Each colony contains only one queen, which mates at an early age and collects more than 5 million sperm. A honey bee queen has one mating flight and stores enough sperm during the mating flight to lay eggs throughout her life. The pattern of lying is unique to queen bees. Each queen bee lay a single egg in each cell in upward position along the wall of cell that has already been cleaned by worker bees. Further if the egg is in vertical position it will develops into a queen bee but if it is in horizontal position it will matures into either male drone or worker bees. A queen bee can lay upto 2000 eggs per day. Egg is a tiny creature and it resembles to grain of rice which is about 1.7mm in length and upto 3 days it remains in this position. Presence of properly arranged eggs in cells indicates a healthy queen bee residesin hive. Worker bees regulate the ratio of female workers to male drones by building small cells for worker bees and large cells for male drone’s viz. five cells per 25 millimeters (1 inch), and four cells per 25 millimetres (1 inch), respectively.
Next stage is the larva which starts after 3 days of hatching. This stage is the distinction between the different casts as the male drones and worker bees are fed with royal jelly only upto the starting 3 days of larvae stage while the queen bee is fed with royal jelly also after this stage i.e. about 6 days after the egg is laid. Healthy larva is pearly white in appearance with small grubs curled-up upto the entire body.
In this stage the development of bee takes place within the capped cell (brood) and during this stage some features like legs, wings, eyes and small hairs covers the body of bee. After seven to fourteen days in this stage, depending on the type of bee, the adult bee chews its way out of the cell. This stage is shorter for the queen, longer for worker bees and longest for the drones.
This is the last stage and finally bee chews the wax of capped cell and emerges out. The adult queen emerges from the cell 16 days after deposition of an egg, the worker bee after 21 days and the drone after 24 days. After free from cell the bee is assigned with new responsibilities for the hive i.e. clean up the hive, to act as foraging bee, field bee, or guard bee The life of worker bee is 6 weeks. The first few weeks of a worker’s life are spent working within the hive, while the last weeks are spent foraging for food and gathering pollen or nectar. A drone is a male bee. Unlike the female worker bee, drones do not have stingers and gather neither nectar nor pollen. They may live for just a few weeks or upto 4 months. Queen bees can sting too, but their stinger is not barbed and they can actually sting multiple times without dying.
Lovish Singla* and Vikas Nanda
Department of Food Engineering & Technology
Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering & Technology, Longowal, Punjab-148106