A bee, just as every other insect undergoes four distinct changes in its life cycle; while most of us are familiar with honeybees, but not all the bees produce honey bees. There are various kinds of bees, some are solitary while others like the Rock bee is a domesticated variety and is known for its high-grade honey. But irrespective of the fact if the bee in question lives alone or as part of a hive, the life cycle stages are the same – however for reason of clarity, let’s take a closer look at the life cycle of a honey bee, shall we? Honey bees live in a hive, where there are three classes of bees present – the queen bee, worker bees and the drones. The queen mates seasonally with the drones after which the drone bees die and the queen prepares to lay her egg.
Egg: A honey bee starts its life as a humble egg; the queen chooses a cell in the hive and lays a single egg into the same. Once the egg has been laid it can take anywhere from three to four days for the egg to hatch. Usually, the fertilized eggs become worker bees while the unfertilized ones often become drones or queen bees. Once an egg hatches, the larva, that is white and legless spills out and is soon taken care of, by the worker bees.
Larva: The larva is fed a rich mixture of royal jelly and bee milk – yes, you heard it right, bee milk for a period of two days as it starts to grow at a rapid pace. It soon sheds its skin at least four times in a row and soon, becomes large enough to progress to the next stage of development by day nine.
Pupa: By day nine, the larva stops feeding and soon becomes dormant; in reality, it is anything but dormant and soon starts spinning a cocoon around itself. Soon, the worker bees carry the pupa into a cell and seal the same. The bee, in this stage, begins t develop eyes, arms, legs and wings – and after a period of ten to 22 days, they chew their way out of the cocoon and the cell, to emerge as new adults.
Adult bee: the adult bee emerges and soon she becomes the new queen, in which case she will either replace the old queen or fly off to start her own hive with her own brood later on. In actuality, it is the worker bees who decide which bee should become a drone or a prospective queen by feeding the same with royal jelly. Guess that’s something to be said for selection.
This is the life cycle of bees and while honeybees belong to the order of Hymenoptera, there are various kinds of bees out there and not all of them live in hives or produce honey. In fact, some of them are parasites, living off other organisms. So the next time you are having honey with your bread, you may want to think about the process and the humble bee behind the sting.
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