Beekeeping is the ancient practice of keeping bees for their products, such as honey, wax and propolis. At the heart of this practice is the queen bee, who is the pillar of the colony and plays an essential role in the life and survival of the hive. In this article, we will explore the crucial role of the queen in the life of her colony and her importance to modern beekeeping and the environment!
The life of the queen bee
The queen bee is the only fertile female in the colony. She is raised in a royal cell for 21 days, fed with a special jelly, the royal jelly, and carefully protected by the workers throughout her life. After her emergence, i.e. her birth, she flies away for a nuptial flight and is impregnated by 15 to 20 males of the surroundings, also called false bumblebees or drones. Once the queen is fertilized she returns to the hive and begins to lay eggs in the cells of the hive.
The role of the queen bee
The queen bee is the central element of the colony. She produces pheromones that regulate the behavior of the workers and maintain order in the hive. She is also responsible for the reproduction of the colony by laying eggs that develop into larvae. The queen can lay between 1500 and 3000 eggs per day and is able to maintain this production for several years. Of course it depends on the time of the year. The queen bee can live up to 5 years, although the degradation of the environment shows that today, the life span is closer to 2 years.
The queen bee is usually impregnated during a mating flight, which occurs about 5 days after her emergence from the royal cell. During this flight, she flies to a gathering place where the males of the neighboring hives are located. She mates with several males and stores the sperm in a special pocket in her body, called a spermatheca. She can use this sperm to fertilize the eggs she lays throughout her life as a queen.
The importance of the queen bee in beekeeping
The queen bee is essential for modern beekeeping! She is responsible for the production of the colony, providing the workers who harvest the honey and other products of the hive. Beekeepers must closely monitor the health of the queen and ensure that she is healthy to maintain hive production. If the queen bee dies, the colony will do its best to produce a rescue queen cell from the young larvae that remain in the hive. If this fails, the colony will disappear if the beekeeper does not intervene in time.
The queen bee is a vital part of the bee colony and of modern beekeeping. But also more widely in our ecosystem with its pollination action. By understanding its role in the life of the colony, beekeepers can take the necessary steps to ensure that their hive is healthy and productive. Thanks to their queen, bees produce honey and other products that benefit humans, making beekeeping an important practice for our food and economy, while allowing plants to reproduce.