Honey Bee Hive

An Amazing Look At The Honey Bee Hive

The absolute order within a honey bee hive is not only crucial, but a wonder to behold. For a new colony, the nesting area is chosen by a singular queen who builds a small keep of about 25 cells, wherein she lays eggs for a small worker bee brood. This queen has been fertilized by drone bees from foreign clans, and has enough eggs within her to lay an average of 2,400 eggs per day for up to 5 years. She determines the sex of each larvae by fertilizing the eggs that will become the female workers, and not fertilizing the ones who will be the male drones.

The worker bees are the ones that we most commonly see. They are undeveloped female bees, and there can be upwards of 80,000 worker bees in a large, well developed colony. The worker bee takes on just about every task for the hive, as the drones lay in wait for mating flights and the queen lays her brood day in and day out. The queen must stay busy, as the worker bees life span is maxed out at 5 weeks, and the colony’s replenishments must be ready to fly.

The honey bee hive is intricately woven, with larger but fewer culls at the bottom for the drone larvae,  and smaller and many more cells for the worker bee larvae, each layer separated by the wax secretions of the worker bees who feed and tend the young. Honey cells are layered on the top, where the worker bees regurgitate and dehydrate the nectar of flowers to create their super food. In the event that a queen should leave the hive early, she takes half of the fleet with her for new territory. Those left behind will feed the undeveloped larvae of a worker bee a miracle food, derived from the former queens hormonal secretions, called royal jelly, and this chosen bee will emerge the new queen. She has been blessed with the gifts of mating and long life, while the others will toil for her good.

The drone bees have one purpose alone, and this is to spread seed. Though they lounge about within the safe confines of the hive during the summer season, awaiting their mating flights, they are banished from the honey bee hive as the colony begins to settle for winter. Food stores are tight, and the unneeded drones are nothing more than an extra mouth to feed during this critical time of rest.

There is also a practice referred to as “balling”, wherein a queen comes back to the hive after mating and is surrounded by a group of fifteen to twenty worker bees until she falls to starvation. This is thought to be a territorial conflict, wherein the scents of foreign drones that she has brought back with her have caused an upset to the pheromone balance within the colony. The vicious circle continues, as the scent of their murdered queen now lingers on the homicidal worker bees, and they become victims of the same cruel fate.