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Honeybee lives – The busy life of a worker honeybee.

Honeybees.

Inside a hive, you have the queen who lays eggs and the drone who has only one task to mate–if he’s lucky. The worker bee on the other hand does so much more than most people think.

They are so incredibly busy working their little buns off to ensure the survival of their species. So much goes on in the honeybee lives that is missed.

I thought I would take a moment to share my knowledge of what a busy worker bee does in her short lifespan during the spring and summer months.

To read about what happens in the winter months, click here.

Tasks of a newly emerged worker bee.

Worker bees hard at work!

Aside from the drone who is the male in the honeybee world, all other bees inside the hive are all female.

It is the females in the hive, known as the workers, who do all the work to make sure the hive runs properly. And it starts from the moment they emerge out of their cells.

The first thing these “new-bees” do is clean out their cells that they just came out of. Honeybees find house cleaning a very important task.

Their job after that isn’t to immediately run out and find pollen, these girls are known as “nurse bees.” They take care of all the other eggs and larvae.

Worker bees ensure the larvae is fed with their special “bee bread” they make from the pollen that is collected and stored.

They create a cap that is placed over the larvae when they are about to transform from a larva to a bee.

Honeybees also make what is known as “royal jelly” which is not only fed to the larvae but is the queen’s main and only source of food.

Some many other tasks the worker bee does includes making the wax that holds the honey they make that also holds the eggs the queen lays and the pollen that is brought back.

They also make a sticky substance called propolis that kind of insulates their hive or holds everything in place.

This substance is pretty strong and one main reason why beekeepers will use a hive tool when going to the bee yard. To see more about a hive tool, click here.

All of this is done on top of making honey and storing honey reserves for safe keeping.

There isn’t one task assigned to each bee.

Every worker bee performs each task throughout their lives. One assignment isn’t given to each honeybee for them to do for the rest of their lives.

The worker bee will do every task at some point during her 4 to 6 week life span.

I know some movies portray the honeybee as holding one job during her short career as a honeybee, however, this just isn’t true.

The only two bees inside the hive who do not wear multiple hats throughout their lives are the queen and the drone. However, even out of those two, the queen does way more work than the drone ever will.

Guard the hive and take care of the queen.

On top of all the “to do” items on the worker bee’s list, they also have to take care of the queen bee.

Even though the queen is known for her role as a type of leader, she really only lays eggs and gives off pheromones. It is the worker bees who make sure she is well-fed.

They feed her royal jelly that they make themselves. This is the only diet the queen is fed. Worker bees also take care of her feces and groom her.Worker bees entering the hive.

When it’s time to make a new queen, this task is also in the hands of the worker bee!

These girls create the larger cell for the egg, building it out as she grows and maintain a constant supply of royal jelly until the queen cell is capped off.

Their job also entails making sure the hive is well guarded. Worker bees will also stand guard at the entrance of a hive to guard their home. This job requires them to check the bees that are entering the hive.

I’ve watched the hive as wasps will try to enter the hive. Then, shortly afterwards you’ll see some of the girls battling it out with that same wasp who tried to break in.

There are many other critters who try to break and enter hives. Some of them may be other honeybees from different hives!

Later in life.

In the last couple of weeks of a honeybee’s life, they will take on the most dangerous task of all. This is when they leave the hive to go forage for food.

Usually a honeybee will fly within a 2 to 3 mile radius, searching for food.

These girls face all kinds of obsticals from cars, pesticides, people who step on them and much much more.

Worker bees store the pollen they find on their back legs. Sometimes when you stand in front of a hive, you’ll see returning worker bees with little packed pollen stores on their back legs.

I’ve even seen different colors of pollen as well. I’ll joke with people who visit the hives with me telling them it looked like they got into a bag of Cheetos.

Worker bees do everything!

It’s really quite fascinating when you stop to think about everything a worker bee does. There is no lying around being lazy for these girls.

Their hard work pays off too, they manage the hive, keep up with the maintenance and make ALL the necessary food!

Even though their goal is to make sure their species survives, they play a huge role in our lives too. They provide us with delicious honey and pollinate many of the plants we eat on a daily basis.
Worker bees on a frame.

Without their hard work we wouldn’t have most of the delicious foods we take for granted regularly.

This includes all the fruits and vegetables. Not to mention the food that is eaten by our main source of meat.
As you can see, they not only take care of their own but they truly do everything and take care of us all!

If you liked what you have read today, please leave a comment below! Also, if you have any questions about bees or another blog post you’d like to see, let me know!

Have any Question or Comment?

36 comments on “Honeybee lives – The busy life of a worker honeybee.

Oscar

Hi there,

what an enlightening post this is.  Only in recent years have I become interested in reading more about bees.  Not many of us know or do not want to believe that without bees there would be no life on planet Earth.  It is so sad to see people killing them relentlessly.

Today I learned quite some new information.  I did not know that the worker bees are so busy all their lives.  As you state, I thought that bees have one thing to do in their lifetime.  According to what you state, they do everything that is needed to be done.  I guess that is a valuable lesson for my students, and I plan to use that piece of knowledge with them in the coming weeks to teach them about working hard.

I always had the question how they keep the hives clean, but it now all makes sense after reading this post.  

Also, I would have never seen it from that point of view that leaving the hive is the most dangerous place for a bee to go.  It is really to bad that mankind has done so much damage to the animal world that it has become dangerous for them to go do what they were made for.

Again, thanks for such a good piece of information,

Oscar

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Randi

Hello Oscar! I am absolutely thrilled to hear you are going to share information about honeybees to your students! They truly are valuable and irreplaceable. I hope that more of the human population will learn just how precious they are and how much we really do need them. Thank you so much for your reply!

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Dave Sweney

This was a wonderful look into the life of a worker honeybee. It seems they really have the right name (worker bee), as they work a lot! I really did not have an idea of just how a beehive operates, nor the different roles of the bees. This explained clearly just how intricate the process is for that honey I put in my coffee in the morning…

Of all the roles in a hive, the worker bee has the worst job. From cleaning to caring, from pollen gathering to caring for the queen bee, the worker bee does it all. I have the utmost respect after reading your article. I am also glad to hear from other sources that the bee population is recovering from their recent decline.

Thanks for taking the time to inform us about the honeybees and the worker bees that make the whole thing tick. They certainly have a busy life, and a short one (6 weeks?). I learned a lot today…

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Randi

I sure do enjoy reading comments like these where people learn new things about honeybees. Thank you for your thoughtful response! You are right, worker bees do have the worst job of all. Especially compared to the drone who doesn’t do much of anything. It is so weird to think about compared to how our society works!

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Stephanie

It’s amazing they do all that work and that they have such a short life span. I am now curious as to how a new queen is actually made and I will have to look at that. There is a Lavender farm/apiary near me where visitors are allowed to tour and learn about both lavender and bees that I enjoy going to. They play such a vital role in our food supply and more people need to appreciate that.

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Randi

Hello Stephanie, it’s funny that you mentioned a lavender farm, I was just talking about going to one yesterday. I think it would make for some excellent photos of the bees that are attracted to them! 

I will have to create a new blog post about how the new queens are made! Thank you so much for your response!

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NiceAngel

I love this write-up. I never ask myself  what sex gender the workers bees could be. I thought they are all male. A lot of lessons are stuck in here. I’m just aware that the only male bee in the hive is called drone. I never knew the queen bee has it own special food it feed on. Yes, I know very well that the worker bees risk their life to search for food for their hive.

Everyones believe that the free range bees normally build their hive in the bush or forest. What condition could make them drpart the hive in the forest and find their way to build their hive inside house? I have seen an incident like that before.

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Randi

It is my ultimate goal to show people just how fascinating honeybees really are. Exactly how they work sure is interesting. 

In the cases I’ve seen where a bee hive left to find a home somewhere else was because the queen made it through and entire year and swarmed. This means that the queen takes off with half of the hive to find a new home somewhere else. The worker bees that are left behind create a new queen to take her place. 

These swarms are what people see of gathered bees along the side of a house, tree branch or pretty much anywhere. It’s the hive looking for a new home and sometimes it just happens to be inside someone’s house. 

Thank you so much for the reply and the awesome question!

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Michael Melnick

Your post is a short and beneficial course to learn about the hierarchy of the beehive. This includes the sex life of the queen, the reproduction process and how egg storage cells are made,  to the gathering of pollen on the worker bees hind legs. Write more of this, it’s very interesting.

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Randi

I am very glad you liked it! I have many more ideas on future posts too. I hope I can reach out to more people to spark their interest as well! Thank you for your reply! 

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Barbara

Reading your post I was truly fascinated. I love animals, any type, big or small, mammals or insects I always had a big admiration ofr the animal and particular insect world. They are so perfect, so accurate, so beautiful to observe and watch. When you describe the work and rule fo each inhabitant of the hive I imagines a colony of people, like a small town where everyone has a specific part to play and it is true.

Thank you for sharing it, not just beautiful to read but also extremly informative

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Randi

Hello Barbara, I liked in your comment how you mentioned you imagined it to be like a colony of people! I share the same opinion when researching about these unique little creatures! They really do have their own social structure that isn’t like most other bugs! Thank you for your response!

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Ayodeji

Great post and excellent writeup about the busy lives of a worker honey bee. I have had a keen interest on bees since they are one of the most social insects all over the world. It amazes me how organised they are and the way they work hand in hand. The worker bee just like you wrote are one of the most important, and the task I love about them is the feeding of the queen. Lovely creatures they are, except when they are defending the hive. Good work just like the bees, keep it up. 

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Randi

Thank you! I appreciate your reply. They really are lovely creatures and how they work is very interesting to learn about. I’m glad you enjoyed this article and found value in it! 

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Lok Which

Wow. This is such an interesting article. The bee worker really works a lot, and I have been enlightened on a lot of things if not know about about honeybee worker. Thanks for sharing this informative and educative article. I’m sure I won’t be the only one who would have gotten a lot of facts about this.

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Randi

Thank you for your comment! It makes me happy when people are interested to read about honeybees and how they work. I really hope I can reach out to others in the same way!

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ajibola40

I find this article so full of informative and educative on the bee life span and how busy they are 

I must say this is my fist time of reading article on honey bee lives

one of the thing I find interesting in live of honey bee is when you they will take on the most dangerous task of all and leave their hive and  go forage for food.

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Randi

I’m glad you found this blog post educational and full of useful information about bees! I plan to write many more blogs about the fascinating world of honeybees. That you for your response!

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Louis

Never really thought there was more to love about the honeybees apart from honey. Thanks for opening my eyes to the uniqueness of bees.

I like the organisation of the beehive. I believe they are even more organised than some human communities. Really, the organisation in a beehive is very interesting. What is the criteria for becoming a queen? Can’t some worker bee start a revolution to overturn their cruel fate?

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Randi

Hello Louis! Thank you for your response! Honeybees really do have a pretty good social society and seem to have it worked out!

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Adamu2

Thanks for writing out I absolutely love this insightful article because it is full of great information. This is fascinating and intriguing to me.i learnt how honeybee have been working hard and does everything .they travel 2-3 miles insearch of food and protect the queen. In fact honeybee is life. Thank you for this wonderful post

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Randi

Thank you for your response! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed what you read and found it insightful! I hope to reach out to many others and bring useful and educational information about honeybees. I appreciate your input! 

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Yormith96

Hi there Randi, I must say I really enjoyed this article about the busy life of worker honey bee. In fact this is one of the best article I Will be reading about honey bee and most importantly about the worker honeybee that I don’t really know how they work before in the colony, just as the name implies worker honeybee. Thanks for sharing this wonderful article once again 

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Randi

Thank  you for your response! I’m so very glad you found it interesting and were able to understand how the bee world works! It’s been a goal of mine to share this information with everyone. Honeybees are really unique!

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Michel

I found this post really interesting and didn’t realise that the poor worker bee worked so hard for her entire life.

I love honey, and I believe the royal jelly is also used for a multitude of things in the beauty industry.

I believe that bees are considered an endangered species at the moment. It is quite scary to think that the world probably wouldn’t survive very well without these awesome little creatures, as who would pollinate all those flowers and make new plants grow?

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Randi

Hello Michel! Even though the worker bee works so hard her entire life, it really does pay off in delicious honey and tasty fruits and veggies. But thankfully in a hive there are thousands of other little workers to help! You’re right, I can’t imagine what our lives would be like without them!

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Achievers

This is very interesting. Thanks for sharing this article. It’s very interesting to know about the life activities of the worker honeybee. This post is really exciting and fascinating and loaded with hidden knowledge about the bee family. Now I know that the Queen bee feed on and the sex life of the queen. This is really interesting to know. Keep it up. 

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Randi

I’m glad you found this article interesting! Honeybees really are quite fascinating in how they live their daily lives and how they have it all figured out. They are an extraordinary bug! Thank you for your response!

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tawhid

Hi Randi,

I just read your article of Honeybee lives – The busy life of a worker honeybee, i found this post very helpful and educative. lots of new things learned from your article. i never had much idea about the bees but by reading your article i got enough information about the life of bees most of all the worker bees. thank you so much for this informative post. 

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Randi

I appreciate your response! I’m thrilled to hear when others see how precious honeybees are in our society. They really are a unique bug that we can’t live without!

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mhasanalvi

Hi Randi,

I have read the whole article about Honeybee lives – The busy life of a worker honeybee.I have learn that Bees are very active and they do everything that is needed, from your article. They are so busy all their lifetimes.By reading your article i have found that bees have a short lifetime which is 4-6 weeks.After reading your article people will be able to know that bees are Very precious for our planet.Thank you very much for write such a wonderful article on honeYbee.I will share this article with my friends and relatives so that they can know about the life of honeybee.

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Randi

Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about worker bees and you know how valuable they truly are. I can’t imagine what our lives would be like without them! And I greatly appreciate you sharing the information with your family and friends! 

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Murray

HI Randi

I have to say this is one of the best stories on Honey Bees I have ever read. Thank you for your writing skills.

I didn’t know much about the hive until reading your blog. I did do a little research a few summers back when a Bee Keeper approached my neighbor to use a corner of a his farm pashter. This would put a hive near our home as well. 

But after talking to the hive keeper I realized how important Bees are to the farming community. Sadly he explained that the world is in danger of Bees dying off because of power lines, urban encroachment and pesticides. Plus many other things we humans are doing to destroy our food chain. There is my rant for the day.

I now admire Bee Keepers such as yourself for taking the time in your day to care of one of Natures Miracles.

Murray

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Randi

Hello Murray! I’m thrilled to hear you found my bee article one of the best stories about honeybees! I appreciate that! There are a lot of factors that are contributing to the loss of honeybees. One of them is due to mites. They are these tiny little bugs that are the biggest problem. I plan on writing more about this topic too. Thank you for your response!

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Carl

Are the amount of Drones limited? Can they chose how may they have or is it just luck of the draw. If the worker bees do all the work I would put most of my effort making them lol.

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That’s a great question! Actually the queen can determine which egg she lays is going to be a drone or a worker. Inside a hive there are mostly workers with a limited amount of drones since the workers do all of the work 🙂 Thank you for replying Carl!

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