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Honey Bee Eggs

The life cycle of all insects, including honey bees, begins with eggs. During the winter season, a queen forms a new colony by laying eggs within each cell inside a honeycomb. Fertilized eggs will hatch into female worker bees, while unfertilized eggs will become drones or honey bee males. In order for one colony to survive, the queen must lay fertilized eggs to create worker bees, which forage for food and take care of the colony.

Each colony contains only one queen, which mates at an early age and collects more than 5 million sperm. A honey bee queen has one mating flight and stores enough sperm during the mating flight to lay eggs throughout her life. When a queen can no longer lay eggs, new queens become responsible for mating and laying honey bee eggs.

Honey bee eggs measure 1 to 1.5 mm long, about half the size of a single grain of rice. When the queen lays her eggs, she moves through the comb, closely examining each cell before laying her eggs. The process of laying one egg takes only a few seconds, and a queen is capable of laying up to 2,000 honey bee eggs within a single day.

A young queen lays her eggs using an organized pattern, placing each egg next to others within a cell. Queens begin laying their eggs in the center of the cell frame, so workers can place honey, royal jelly and other foods for larvae on the outer edges. However, as the queen ages, she lays fewer eggs in a less organized pattern.

When the queen lays a honey bee egg, it becomes attached to the cell by a mucous strand. During the first stage of development, the digestive system, nervous system and outer covering are formed. After three days, the eggs will hatch into larvae, which will be fed by worker honey bees with honey, royal jelly and other liquids from plants. These honey bee larvae have no legs, eyes, antennae or wings; they resemble a grain of rice with a small mouth. They will eat and grow into adult workers, queens or drones.

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