The queen's role in the hive


Chosen randomly from the larvae, queen bees have a much longer life span than worker bees.  3 to 5 larvae are chosen and placed in "royal boxes".  Fed exclusively with royal jelly, the strongest of the larvae selected at the base will be elected queen.

queen bee abeille reine comment apiculture miel recolte blog article

Several larvae are chosen at the base to make only one queen.  How is the selection of the queen and the elimination of the others done?  It's a real fight between the pre-selected bees.  It's a fight to the death that will be fought, the winner will be elected queen as soon as this battle is over.

Why is a queen chosen?

There are several situations in which the choice of a queen is necessary.  First of all, the most common reason is that the queen dies of old age.  It is essential for the survival of the bee colony to always have a queen.  Otherwise the survival of the colony is not possible.


There is a second reason why the queen is replaced.  When she has decided to simply leave.  This phenomenon has a name, it's called swarming.  But the queen does not decide to leave on a whim, there is a clear reason for her to leave.  It's the fact that the hive is getting too small for the colony to grow.  So she leaves with some of her troops to go to a larger camp.


So the bees there urgently need to find a queen to succeed the one who has deserted.  The presence of the queen is obligatory as she is the only one to lay worker bee larvae.


It should be pointed out that all bees receive a dose of royal jelly at birth, but quickly switch to meals based mainly on pollen and honey.  For information, the queen lives for 3 to 5 years, while other bees live an average of 5 weeks.

What you don't know about the queen bee

While the honey bee, the bee used to produce our honeys, is an integral part of a colony headed by a queen, not all bees are.  There is another type of bee, the so-called solitary bees, which do not have a queen.  There are thousands of breeds of bees and it is a complementary species to the honey bee.


Pollinating the flowers that the honey bee does not covet, it completes a long term job done by bees as we know them.


Coming back to our queens, you should know that, basically, the eggs of bees are all the same.  The selection of larvae is therefore random and is not determined by a precise factor.  The development of the bee into a queen bee is only distinguished by the food that these larvae receive.  Scientific studies have supported this argument and have proven these facts.


The most paradoxical aspect of the queen bee's feeding and selection is the fact that worker bees only benefit from royal jelly for 3 days, whereas they are the ones who produce it.  The queen benefits from it until her death.  It is produced from a gland in the head of the worker bees.

Description of the queen

It is the consumption of this famous royal jelly that will considerably modify the whole of what was originally a bee like any other.  What is surprising is the composition of the royal jelly which is made up of 50/65% water.  The rest being sugar, proteins, vitamins and other elements.


The consumption of this product will totally modify the DNA of the bee to transform it into what will physically be a queen.  An insect totally different from the worker bee.  The physiology, anatomy and behaviour of the new queen was determined by her diet.


She is rather large compared to honeybees, also having a large abdomen.  It should be noted that worker bees are sterile, only the queen can give birth.  She is capable of laying up to 2000 eggs per day.


The queen's coronation will take place after she has murdered her competitors.  A novel way to begin her reign.  The originality doesn't end there.  After getting rid of her rivals, the queen will begin her nuptial flight.


It is at this moment that she will mate with a dozen males, having taken care to select the strongest and fastest.  Once this stage is over... she will kill them all again.  And at that moment she will be legitimately considered the unanimous queen.


The very manner in which she begins her reign will mark her entire existence.  Indeed, when she reaches a certain advanced age, the queen will lose her ability to bear children.  At that moment, a reversal will take place within the colony.


Having realized that the queen had lost her abilities, the bees will stop feeding her and exclude her.  She will thus die wandering.  Her former colony has already begun the process of finding a new queen.


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