Bee colonies


A colony of bees consists of 3 castes of bee:

A queen, that is generally the sole breeding feminine within the colony;

A large variety of drone bees, usually thirty, thousand–50,000 in number;

A number of male drones, starting from thousands in an exceedingly sturdy hive in spring to only a few throughout dearth or cold season.

The queen is that the solely sexually mature feminine within the hive and every one of the feminine employee bees and male drones area unit her offspring. The queen could live for up to a few years or additional and will be capable of parturition 0.5 1,000,000 eggs or additional in her period of time. At the height of the breeding season, late spring to summer, a decent queen could also be capable of parturition three, thousand eggs in one day, more than her own body weight. This would be exceptional however; a prolific queen may peak at two, thousand eggs on a daily basis, however an additional average queen may lay simply one, 500 eggs per day. The queen is raised from a normal worker egg, but is fed a larger amount of royal jelly than a normal worker bee, resulting in a radically different growth and metamorphosis. The queen influences the colony by the assembly and dissemination of a range of pheromones or “queen substances”. One of these chemicals suppresses the event of ovaries all told the feminine employee bees within the hive and prevents them from parturition eggs.

Mating of queens

The queen emerges from her cell when fifteen days of development and she or he remains within the hive for 3–7 days before venturing out on a sexual practice flight. Mating flight is otherwise known as “nuptial flight”. Her initial orientation flight could solely last a couple of seconds, just enough to mark the position of the hive. Subsequent sexual practice flights could last from five minutes to half-hour, and she or he could mate with variety of male drones on every flight. Over many mattings, possibly a dozen or more, the queen receives and stores enough sperm from a succession of drones to fertilize hundreds of thousands of eggs. If she does not manage to leave the hive to mate—possibly due to bad weather or being trapped in part of the hive—she remains infertile and becomes a drone layer, incapable of producing female worker bees. Worker bees generally kill a non-performing queen and manufacture another. Without a properly activity queen, the hive is doomed.

Mating takes place at a ways from the hive and infrequently many hundred feet within the air; it’s thought that this separates the strongest drones from the weaker ones, ensuring that solely the quickest and strongest drones get to die their genes.

Worker bees

Most of the bees in an exceedingly hive area unit feminine employee bees. At the peak of summer once activity within the hive is frantic and work goes on non-stop, the life of a worker bee may be as short as 6 weeks; in late time of year, once no brood is being raised and no nectar is being harvested, a young bee could live for sixteen weeks, throughout the winter.

Over the course of their lives, employee bees’ duties area unit settled by age. For the primary few weeks of their period, they perform basic chores inside the hive: cleanup empty brood cells, removing debris and other housekeeping tasks, making wax for building or repairing comb, and feeding larvae. Later, they’ll ventilate the hive or guard the doorway. Older staff leave the hive daily, weather permitting, to forage for nectar, pollen, water, and propolis.


Drones area unit the most important bees within the hive (except for the queen), at virtually double the scale of a worker. Note within the image that they need abundant larger eyes than the staff have, presumptively to raise find the queen throughout the sexual practice flight. They do not work, don’t forage for spore or nectar, are unable to sting, and have no other known function than to mate with new queens and fertilize them on their mating flights. A bee colony typically starts to lift drones a couple of weeks before building queen cells in order that they will follow a failing queen or inure swarming.

Structure of a bee colony

A domesticated bee colony is often housed in an exceedingly rectangular hive body, inside that eight to 10 parallel frames house the vertical plates of honeycomb that contain the eggs, larvae, pupae and food for the colony. If one were to chop a vertical crosswise through the hive from facet to facet, the brood nest would appear as a roughly ovoid ball spanning 5–8 frames of comb. The two outside combs at either side of the hive tend to be solely used for long-run storage of honey and spore.

Within the central brood nest, a single frame of comb typically has a central disk of eggs, larvae and sealed brood cells that may extend almost to the edges of the frame. Immediately higher than the brood patch Associate in nursing arch of pollen-filled cells extends from facet to facet, and higher than that once more a broader arch of honey-filled cells extends to the frame first-rate. The spore is protein-rich food for developing larvae, while honey is also food but largely energy rich rather than protein rich. The nurse bees that {care for look when take care of} the developing brood secrete a special food referred to as “royal jelly” after feeding themselves on honey and spore. The amount of secretion fed to an animal determines whether or not it develops into a worker or a queen.

Apart from the honey hold on inside the central brood frames, the bees store surplus honey in combs higher than the brood nest. This enables the beekeeper to remove some of the supers in the late summer, and to extract the surplus honey harvest, without damaging the colony of bees and its brood nest below. If all the honey is “stolen”, including the amount of honey needed to survive winter, the beekeeper must replace these stores by feeding the bee’s sugar or corn syrup in autumn.

Annual cycle of a bee colony

The development of a bee colony follows associate degree annual cycle of growth that begins in spring with a fast enlargement of the brood nest, as presently as spore is accessible for feeding larvae. Some production of brood might begin as early as January, even in a cold winter, but breeding accelerates towards a peak in May (in the northern hemisphere), producing an abundance of harvest bees synchronous to the most nectar flow therein region. Each race of bees times this build-up slightly otherwise, depending on how the flora of its original region blooms. Some regions of Europe have 2 nectar flows: one in late spring and another in late August. Other regions have only a single nectar flow. The ability of the farmer lies in predicting once the nectar flow can occur in his space and in attempting to confirm that his colonies attain a most population of harvesters at exactly the right time.

The key think about this is often the interference or skillful management of the swarming impulse. If a colony swarms unexpectedly and therefore the farmer doesn’t manage to capture the ensuing swarm, he is likely to harvest significantly less honey from that hive, since he has lost [*fr1] his employee bees at one stroke. If, however, he will use the swarming impulse to breed a brand new queen however keep all the bees within the colony along, he maximizes his probabilities of an honest harvest.

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