Worker bees, females all, have different responsibilities during the various stages of their lives. The queen lays around 1200-2000 eggs daily. A colony averages 30,000 worker bees like herself, between 500-2000 males (drones), and a ruling queen bee. A queen may live for 5 to 6 years or even longer. If you have ever doubted the age old saying, you are what you eat, consider the queen bee. She is made queen, not born queen. The only difference between worker bees and their queen is diet. Both begin life as identical eggs, identical genes, but only the eggs deposited in the oversized, peanut shaped queen cells are groomed to become queen. Fed royal jelly and bee pollen is which transforms these larvae into queens. She will then kill all other queens still in their cells by stinging them repeatedly. Worker bees die after stinging, but a queen can sting repeatedly. Fight to the death. A colony without a queen cannot survive. At 4 days old the queen will take her mating flight, the only time she will leave the hive. A single impregnation is sufficient to fertilize all the eggs a queen will lay in her lifetime. 3 days later the queen assumes her role laying 1200-2000 eggs a day (1/2 her body weight).
A worker bee’s first chore consists of cleaning up her own brood chamber. At 1 day old she begins helping the nurse bees (bees older than 3 days old) feed the developing larvae. At 6-12 days old the bee begins secreting royal jelly, qualifying her to feed larvae younger than 3 days old. She has obtained the status of a fully fledged nursing bee. When the queen bee comes into the vicinity, all the nurse bees take turns serving the queen her regal diet of royal jelly and groom her.
At 2 weeks she is considered a housekeeper. Her job consists of dragging out leafs, dead bees, etc. Around this age the bee takes an orientation flight outside the hive, never going far. She is now a receiving bee, and helps pack pollen in cells, ripens nectar, and is now producing wax flakes. She also works as a builder, repairs broken comb and patches small cracks.
At 21 days of age she is considered a guard bee, guarding the entrance of the colony. Beetles and mice will quickly be encased in Propolis. At this age the workers keep the temperature at 94 degrees.
At 4 weeks she becomes the forager. While gathering nectar, she gets covered in pollen. She grooms herself, and puts the pollen in her pollen sacks. She will visit many flowers and pollinate as she goes. Arriving back at the hive, she will be greeted by her sisters, the Receivers, and fly back out. For the next 2 weeks she is a “solitary harvester”. In one day a hive will produce a single pound of honey and visit over 250,000 blooms, making over 37,000 trips to the fields.
There is no day or night inside the hive. The colony buzzes with activity 24 hours a day.
At 6 weeks the bee has accomplished the grand design set out for her and her sisters at the dawn of creation. “As it was in the beginning, so it ever shall be”.