The Honey Bee Organization

Origin of the three types of bee. The workers build three types of cell. Worker cells predominate. Drone cells are fewer and slightly larger. Queen cells are still larger and quite different in shape. They are made singly and often project from the base or surface of the comb.

The queen lays indiscriminately in all these cells but the eggs in the drone cells are unfertilised and develop into males. The eggs in the worker and queen cells are fertilised and develop into females. However, the queen is fed a diet different in quantity and quality from the workers diet and, as a result, develops into the only fertile female.

The queen produces hormone-like substances called pheromones or ‘queen substance’. These play a vital part in suppressing the egg-laying propensities of the workers. Wherever the queen goes, she is followed by a crowd of workers who feed her and ‘lick’ her body with their probosces and so absorb the pheromones.

Swarming. When the size of the colony reaches a certain stage, usually in Spring or Summer when the nectar flow is at its greatest, the queen and a great many workers leave the hive in a swarm. The swarm comes to rest in a great cluster on a tree branch or similar situation. Scout bees, who may have left the hive some days before, seek out a suitable situation for a new nest and return to the swarm and communicate this information, whereupon the whole swarm moves off to the new site. Meanwhile, in the old hive, one of the new queens hatches out, mates, and takes over the colony that is left.