Development and average lifespan of bees; differs between queen, worker and drone bees. While the life expectancy of the queen bee can reach 5 years, the life of an ordinary worker bee lasts an average of 42 days. According to some, "insignificant time"; if you ask she, "a lifetime!". In this week's blog content, we talk about worker bees, which play a vital role in the survival of the colony with the tasks they undertake.
Worker bees are females who cannot produce offspring. Even if one of them takes on this task in the absence of the queen, they cannot contribute to the continuity of the species since they are not mated. But that's the only thing they can't do. Because almost every job needed by a colony, inside and outside the hive, falls within their scope of duty. For this reason, they are known as "worker bees".
The first part of their life which lasts for 42 days in the summer months, is devoted to internal hive work. In a way, it can also be defined as the internship period. The first few days after they open their eyes to the world, they clean themselves. Next comes the cleaning of the comb eyes, which is an important preparation for the queen to lay eggs. At the end of the first week, they take over the feeding of the larvae. They starts to produce beeswax between the 12th and 17th days. The construction of the hexagonal honeycombs you see inside the hives corresponds to this period. It is also the responsibility of the worker bees to keep the temperature in the hive constant. They do this by flapping their wings. It is a very important task for the evaporation of the water in the honeycombs and the maturation of the honey.
When they are about 18 days old, some of them will take their places in front of the hive as law enforcement. Thanks to the unique scent of each hive, they allow the worker bees entering the hive to pass. It is also their duty to warn the colony in case of danger. So much so that in the event of a threat, they will protect their hives at the risk of death. Since the sting of worker bees is part of their body, they cannot retract the sting after the attack and they lose another part of their lower body with the sting. As you can imagine, this is a defense/attack that cost the worker bees their lives.
Worker bees, who have completed their first 21 days with in-hive work, in other words, whose internship period has ended and whose nobility has been confirmed, are now ready for their duties outside the hive. It's time to go outside the hive to collect food and drink. For this, they make test flights that last an average of 1 hour every day. After about a week of flight preparation, long-distance flights begin. Their out-of-hive adventures, which start early in the morning, can last until sunset. They can visit 10 flowers every 1 minute.
When they return to the hive, they dance to tell each other where the best sources of nectar are found in the environment. They use some special figures to tell the quality of the nectar, in which direction and how far. After all, knowledge multiplies when shared!
Because of the intense work during the summer months, the lifespan of the bees is relatively short. They die in an average of 6 weeks, in other words, within 1.5 months. The situation will be a little different for a bee born during the winter months. Since there will be no nectar collection, their movement slows down. Their lifespan can be up to 12 weeks, but only the form of struggle has changed. It is a serious problem to maintain the temperature inside the hive on days when the air temperature drops below 14°C.
In order to maintain the temperature inside the hive, worker bees cluster around the young's. Bees located in the center of the cluster slowly move outward, and those outside slowly move inward. Thanks to this displacement movement, the body temperature of each bees is maintained.
The second and biggest problem of the winter months is hunger. Because despite the fact that there is a sufficient amount of honey in the hive, a decrease in the air temperature (especially if it drops below 0°C) will cause the honey to freeze. Bees cannot consume crystallized honey and there is almost a shortage. Mass deaths can occur, which can lead to the destruction of an entire hive.
For this reason, one of the most critical tasks of the beekeeper is good winter care. Wrapping the hives in a way to provide heat insulation from the inside and outside, and feeding the bees with honey syrup when the air temperature drops will save life for the colony.
As a result, the life span of a worker bee does not exceed one season. They usually die in the season in which they were born. The common point of the lives of those who live in the summer months with their busy working tempo and those who live in the winter with shelter and nutrition problems is the struggle dedicated to the continuity of the species! For some of us, it's only 6 weeks of our lives. If you ask him, it's a whole life spent in the hustle and bustle of feeding, sheltering, security and baby care.
Note: the amount of honey that a worker bee can produce in its lifetime is only 1/12 teaspoon! You think how many life of bees in the honey jar in your kitchen?