Honey Bee Life Cycle: A Life in 4 Phases

The bee life cycle begins when the queen of the colony lays her eggs inside the individual cells of a honeycomb. Queens store more than five million sperm inside their bodies, allowing them to lay eggs throughout their lives after a single nuptial flight.

When the eggs hatch, eggs that were fertilized become workers and unfertilized eggs become drones (male bees). It is the queen’s responsibility to lay fertilized eggs to produce a labor force that can support the colony.

Bee Life Cycle

Stages of development of Bee

Bees pass through four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The eggs of the bees are approximately one millimeter long. The queen examines her eggs before putting them next to each other in the center of the wax honeycombs, with pollen around them. Queens can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day throughout the spring. As queens get older, the number of laying eggs decreases significantly. You can also get one not being able to lay the eggs in close proximity to others, resulting in uneven wax honeycombs.

After three days, eggs hatch into larvae that have no eyes, wings, legs or antennae. Some hive bees are responsible for feeding the larvae with a combination of pollen and honey. Six days after hatching as larvae, they pass into the third stage of development: they weave buds and remain in them for seven days and more, at the end of emergencies as adult bees. Like ants, newborn bees acquire different responsibilities that contribute to the survival of the colony.

Division of adult Bees

Each colony of honey bees is divided into adults in three breeds: the queen, drones and non-reproductive workers. The only work of the zanganos is to mate with the queen during the nuptial flight; After they fertilize the queen, the dead drones. Honey bee workers can live for six weeks, while queens can live for up to five years.

The life cycle of honey bees begins when they hatch from their egg. During the first stage of development the digestive system, the nervous system and the outer covering are formed. Each member of a colony develops at different times. Queens become adults in 15 days, while the dwarves need 24 days and the workers require 21 days to pass the stages of larva and pupa to become adults.

Queen of the hive

Within each colony, there is only one queen. The other members of the colony are workers and drones. The future ones are developed inside large cells and are fed with royal jelly throughout their development. On the other hand, the workers and the drones only fed with royal jelly during the first days of its life.

When a queen dies she is incapable of putting more eggs, the workers raise a new queen. As soon as the new queen becomes an adult take part in a nuptial flight, appearing with several drones. During the nuptial flight, the queen stores sperm and begins to lay eggs inside the hive. Bees queens can lay unfertilized eggs that become drones and fertilized eggs that become workers or a new generation of queens.

For a colony to survive, the honey queen bee needs to put a multitude of fertilized eggs. The future workers will have the task of finding food, building a strong and well isolated, taking care of the larvae and defending the colony from their enemies. The queen examines each egg very carefully before placing it in the cells. Placing eggs takes only a few seconds and a queen can put up to 2,000 eggs in one day.

Honey bee eggs are only one millimeter long and resemble a grain of sand, with a small mouth. When a young, healthy queen lays eggs, place each egg close to the others inside the cells. As the queen ages, the amount of stored sperm decreases. As a result, it produces fewer eggs and the pattern of egg placement becomes less ordered.

Stages of honey bee life cycle


The queen puts a single egg in each cell or alveolus of wax destined for breeding. The eggs are small, white, and oval in shape and without segments. Larvae emerge or hatch from eggs after three days of life.


Fresh out of the shell, the larvae are curled in the shape of a C in the lower part of the cell, where they can be seen as the typical segments. The larvae are white, are blind and have no limbs, with a damp sheen. The larvae are fed larval food and/or royal jelly within their alveoli (hexagonal cells) until they are large enough to perform the metamorphosis, also known as the period of pupa or nymph.

At that time the adult worker bees waxed pre-pupae alveoli, something is known in beekeeping as “operculated cells”. It is convenient to say that the chemical signal in the form of an odor that the larva detaches to be operculated is also interpreted by the mite parasite Varroa destructor to hide opportunely in the interior of the alveolus.


The metamorphosis of the larvae into pupae that will mature in adult insects takes place in the hidden intimacy of the operculum, underneath the closing wax of the cell. This period of rest is completed in a longer period in the case of the drones, due to their greater wingspan. Some opercula of drones have a characteristic pore, in the case of the pupa in Apis cerana and Apis Koschevnikovi Buttel-Reopen.


According to their pupa development, the new adults make their way out of their closed (operculated) cells. Honey bees are considered superorganisms, since the whole colony is a biological unit, above the individual limiting ability. Colony-level breeding is known as “a swarm,” and usually occurs in the spring and summer. However, swarms may be more frequent in tropical areas, where the climate is most favorable throughout the year.

Young bees’ estimation of resource abundance (nectar and pollen), the size of the colony when large, and weather forecast are the main triggers of a new swarm. To initiate enjambrazon (The process of decision and reproduction of a swarm), the colony will prepare 10 to 20 new queen daughters. The eggs are small, white, and oval in shape and without segments. Larvae emerge or hatch from eggs after three days of life.


The miraculous process of how honey bees develop is a complex and fascinating thing. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with this guide to the four stages of bee development – egg, larva, pupa, and adult! If these life cycle phases seem like Greek to you (or if they just made your head spin) fear not; we’ll break down each stage in detail below. We hope that by reading through our helpful explanation on all things honey bee-related has helped you better understand one of nature’s most interesting creatures. Good luck learning more about these amazing insects!

As A Reference: Wikipedia

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