Not only are there numerous types of bees, but there are also a number of types of honeybees; each with their own specific role in the colony. Needless to say, the function of a colony of honeybees would not nearly be as efficient if only one of the three types of honey bees (the worker bee, drone bee, and queen bee) were present. And because each one is so important, the following gives a brief breakdown of what they each do.
The Worker Bee
This is the most common and abundant type of honey bee. Making up almost 98% of a honey bee colony, these bees are essential in both producing honey and pollinating neighboring flowers. However, each worker bee has a relatively short lifespan with most dying within 50 days from birth. But within these 50 days, worker bees are tasked with doing practically everything within a hive, from feeding the young, to constructing the honeycomb, to acquiring food and caring for the queen bee. These are also the only type of honeybee that can actually sting!
Unlike worker bees, there is only a single queen bee within a colony, and she directs all of the other bees; as such, she never leaves the hive unless the colony is searching for a new home. Being the queen bee, she is also the only member of the hive that can lay eggs and survive up to 6 years.
When the queen dies, the rest of the colony will simply pick one of the healthiest young ones that hatch from an egg. The selected young one is then fed a special type of jelly that promotes growth and allows then ew queen to lay thousands of eggs once matured.
The Drone Bee
All of the worker bees are females; on the other side, however, all male bees are called drones. These drone males have only one job: to mate with queens from other colonies. Also, unlike the other worker bees, drone bees can live up to 100 days or until the drone bee is able to successfully mate with a queen.
Life of All the Bees
With these three types of bees, a colony is formed. When searching for a home, these bees can set up a hive in practically any hollow space: from tree trunks to logs, practically any space can be called their home. Once inside these spaces, worker bees will use their own beeswax to create the honeycomb-like structure which is used to house both honey and freshly laid eggs.
Communication between the bees is also especially important, and though it may seem like it would be difficult to coordinate thousands of bees, it is actually quite simple. Firstly, bees will release pheromones or special scents to signal to the rest of the colony if everything is okay. Bees can also use special movements or dancing to signal to the others if a food source has been located.
Honeybees are quite hard workers and have a very organized power structure; all three types of bees have a very specific role and none of them can function without the help of the others. So next time you see a honeybee, remember: there’s a lot that’s going on in the life of that honey bee to promote a cohesive colony.