The Birds and The Bees

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Alright, boys and girls. The time has come to have the talk. When a mommy bee and a daddy bee love each other very much...

Okay, so it doesn't quite work that way. In fact, the lifecycle of a honey bee is quite unique and much different than humans.

Baby bees start out as eggs. To make these eggs, a virgin queen flies out of the hive and mates with somewhere between 6-24 male (drone) bees.

Unfortunately for those poor guys, once they mate with the queen, they fall dramatically to their death. Titanic style. 

The queen keeps everything she needs inside her from that one mating flight to fertilize all the eggs she will ever lay! Around 5 million sperm. Talk about efficient. She then gets to work laying around 2,000 eggs a day. She decides which eggs with become male and female by fertilising the future female eggs and not fertilizing the male eggs, ensuring the proper ratio (being way more females to males). While she is laying these eggs the worker bees are all set out in their jobs to help get ready look after these new bundles of joy.

The egg is the first stage of the bee lifecycle.

The eggs start out about one millimetre long and look like small grains of rice. The eggs are laid in a cell usually in the centre of the frame so that the worker bees can fill the outer cells with supplies needed to raise the bay-bees.

The eggs take three days and hatch into larvae. During this time the larvae are fed over a thousand times a day by nurse bees. The first few days they are fed royal jelly and from there begin to get fed a mixture of honey, pollen and certain secretions from the nurse bee. This breakfast, lunch and dinner is called "bee bread".

If there are potential queen larvae, they are fed strictly royal jelly and will change their growing pattern from growing into a worker bee to growing into a virgin queen.

The larvae then get capped in their cells and begin to spin themselves into a cocoon. This is the third stage of development known as a pupa. Here they are forming everything from eyes to fuzzy hairs. Once they have fully formed it's happy birthday bees! The new adult bees chew their way through the capped cell and into the world. 

The workers will now start their cycle through the many bee jobs, the first of which being mortuary bees. Taking any bees that have died in the hive and dispose of them far away outside. 

The drones live a simple life, their sole purpose to mate with a virgin queen. Until then they just lay back and take her easy.

The queen takes the longest in development taking the grand total time of 24 days from egg to adult. She must out sting the possible other queen hatchlings and merge victorious as the tole queen. After about a week, she then begins her maiden mating flight out of the hive and the circle of life continues.