No bee works alone. A single honey bee will produce one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in their lifetime. It is only with the help of a hive that the raw honey you love to eat is produced. Made into everything from flavored honey straws to honey candy, everybody loves the sweet taste of organic honey. But there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, or rather, behind the hive. Like any work environment there is a hierarchy in the hive, and at the top is the oh so famous queen. But how much do you really know about this queen bee? She is much more complex than what meets the eye, and if you are at are looking to learn beekeeping basics, here are five must-know facts about the queen bee.
1. The queen will only ever eat organic royal jelly
Organic royal jelly is the diet of all young bees, but the queen gets to keep this diet throughout her life. Produced from the head of young worker bees, organic royal jelly allows the queen to be the only bee who can reproduce in a hive as all the workers who eat fermented pollen have their ovaries shrivel over time.
2. There can only be one
You have probably heard that there can only be one queen in every hive, but it doesn’t start that way. Multiple queens are produced, and they fight until only one remains. After a queen hatches, she kills all of her competing queens by stinging their unhatched eggs. If more than one queen hatches at once, they will fight until only one remains.
3. Queen bees are not all about the honey
The queen may never leave the hive during her ‘reign’. She will never produce any honey in her lifetime, the queen doesn’t even visit a flower. In fact, she will rarely ever eat honey because she lives off organic royal jelly.
4. The queen bee is more of a figurehead than the ruler of the hive
Think of a beehive more like a democratic system, not a monocratic system. The queen bee is there to be the mother but doesn’t really make any decisions. There aren’t too many decisions to be made in a hive, but when it comes time to choose something like a nesting site, all the bees get a vote.
5. The queen bee only ever mates for a period of one to two days
It might surprise you that all worker bees are female, for every 100 worker bees there is one drone bee, a male bee. They don’t contribute any bee pollen, instead, their purpose is to mate with the queen. Once in her life, for just a couple days at the most, the queen bee will mate as much as possible with as many drone bees as possible. After that, she never mates again but the sperm is stored inside of her so she can reproduce over an extended amount of time. Once she runs out of sperm, the queen can never mate again.
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