Meet the 3 Kinds of Honey Bees in a Hive
God Save the Queen bee
The term "Queen bee" is widely used to describe powerful women. Good pick, since the insect Queen bee is one impressive female. Her pheromone signals regulate the hive. In addition, as you can see in the photo above, she is much bigger than the Worker bees. The Queen is the life of the hive. Not in a "life of the party" way, but as the giver of life. The Queen is the largest bee and lays all the eggs that maintain the hive population. To keep her strength up the Worker bees (other females) prepare her a special diet of royal jelly. What do the male Drones do? Well, you can guess. They fly around outside the hive, waiting to mate with the Queen. Then they die off. In a healthy hive this routine fluctuates with the seasons and goes on for years.
An aging Queen may leave the hive with up to 60 percent of the workers and fly off to start a new hive leaving a daughter queen to inherit the original hive. If she is ailing or no longer producing viable bees, the colony may sting her to death. A replacement Queen can be added by a beekeeper, or, if there are viable eggs, the colony can feed a continuous diet of royal jelly to a larvae and create a new Queen. If there are several brood being nurtured as possible Queens, the first new Queen bee to emerge will kill all the other developing Queens. Yikes. Then she reigns supreme and the life of the hive goes on. Does that make you appreciate the honey you're spooning onto your cereal?