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When talking about bee queen this is the largest bee in the bee colony, recognizable by her long, tapering abdomen. Her wings, on the contrary, are much shorter than the body and, therefore, cannot cover the abdomen. The bee queen is named for her unique, superior position within the beehive. She is being protected by all bees in the colony as the eggs she is laying down, next to the produced honey and the developing brood, are the most valuable possession of the bee colony.
What makes bee queen so special?
One of the main reasons for the distinguished role of the Bee Queen is her ability to emit pheromones inhibiting the ovary development of worker bees. It makes the rest female workers sterile and the Bee Queen remains the only female bee in the nest that is fertile, able to lay eggs and to bear the offspring. Newly emerged bee queens mate with numerous drones from different bee colonies. Nevertheless, several mating attempts have to succeed in order to win the position of a queen. Bee Queen is the one to lay fertilized eggs and to take care of the establishment and the survival of the bee colony. One to two weeks after emerging, bee queens begin to fly out of the hive for mating at least once a day. During the so-called mating flights at drones’ congregation areas, their oviducts become injected by drone’s semen, which is enough for about 4 years ahead.
How a bee becomes bee queen?
The worker bees make the decision which of the female larvae will develop to bee queens if a queen is needed. The emerging future queens are just as normal as the rest female larvae. Yet the treatment turns distinctive when the bees destined to become new queens are accommodated in cell cups placed vertically on the comb, while the rest of the larvae are reared in cells on a horizontal plane. Furthermore, queen bees are fed exclusively with special nutrition, so called royal jelly, unlike the rest larvae dieted on nectar. Bee queens gather neither pollen nor nectar and they are unable to secrete wax to build comb cells. For the purpose of easier recognition, bee queens are marked on the thorax.
Royal jelly - the exquisite nutrition
Royal jelly is secreted from the glands of worker bees and is the most vital substance a bee queen is fed on throughout her development. This specialized nutrition makes it possible that bee queen larvae become twice the workers’ size and lay approximately 2,000 eggs a day. She does the latter in the cleaned and newly built cells by the worker bees. The bees of the colony fly in midair surrounding the bee queen so that they form a kind of defensive wall. The bee queen lives up to two to three years and, therefore, is the longest living individual of the colony. Moreover, she is much greater in size than the female workers. Due to the high concentration of vitamins, amino acids, enzymes and trace elements in her diet bee queens are more vigorous and enjoy a long life. Failing bee queens are recognized immediately and prematurely replaced. The production of a new queen is initiated by the worker bees themselves.