Being a Queen isn’t an easy thing!
Pampered? Maybe. A queen bee starts out as an egg, just like any normal worker bee (all of which are females). But instead of a normal worker bee diet, she is fed large amounts of royal jelly and the worker bees enlarge her brood cell as she is going to be a much longer bee than any worker bee.
Once born, she may have to compete for dominance (if the worker bees decided to raise more than one queen). Then after about three days, she leaves the hive only on sunny calm days to find male bees (drones) to mate with – and with as many of them as possible! This allows the queen to provide genetic diversity in the hive.
Queen honeybees not only mate with lots of males, but they also brag about it to the whole hive.
She does so with the use of chemical markers called pheromones.
“It looks like the queen is not only saying, ‘OK, I’m here,’ but she’s also telling the workers that she’s a mated queen, and that she’s either poorly or well mated — which is pretty important, because she uses the pheromones to regulate the social organization of the hive,” says Penn State University entomologist Elina L. Niño, lead author of a recent study.
A healthy, well mated queen is what every bee in the hive lives for. It makes them less “angry”, gentler. They are more productive and happy and healthy.
And we all want healthy bees!
Do you see that bee with the red dot? That’s my 2013 Apis mellifera carnica queen, a Carniolan queen.