A Royal Coronation: How a Bee Becomes a Queen


Bees are known for their highly organized social structure, with different types of bees performing distinct roles to ensure the survival and growth of their colony. One of the most important roles in a bee colony is that of the queen bee. In this blog post, we will explore the process of how a bee becomes a queen, from the selection process to the physical and behavioral changes that occur in her body.

The process starts with the selection of a new queen by the worker bees in the colony, who build special cells called queen cups to accommodate the larger size of the queen larvae. The chosen larvae are then fed exclusively with royal jelly, a special type of food rich in nutrients and hormones that help them develop into queen bees. Over time, the queen larvae undergo physical and behavioral changes that enable them to become the reproductive leaders of the colony.

The Selection of a New Queen

The process of how a bee becomes a queen starts with the selection of a new queen. The current queen bee may die or become too old to lay eggs, or she may be replaced by the workers in the colony due to poor performance. Once the workers realize that the colony needs a new queen, they start to prepare for the selection process.

The selection process begins with the production of queen cups. These are special cells that the workers build vertically on the surface of the comb. Queen cups are larger than the worker bee cells and are specifically designed to accommodate the larger size of the queen bee larvae. Once the queen cups are built, the workers start to choose the larvae that will become the next queen.

To choose a potential queen bee, the workers select a young larva that is less than three days old. They then feed it with royal jelly, a special type of food that is rich in nutrients and hormones that help the larvae develop into a queen bee. The larvae that are chosen to become queen bees are fed with royal jelly exclusively for the first three days of their life. After this, they are still fed royal jelly, but they are also given other types of food.

The Physical Changes in a Queen Bee

Once the worker bees have selected a potential queen bee and have fed her with royal jelly, the physical changes in her body begin to occur. These changes are a result of the hormones present in the royal jelly and the special treatment that the queen larvae receive from the worker bees.

One of the most notable physical changes in a queen bee is her size. A queen bee is much larger than a worker bee, with a longer abdomen, larger wings, and longer legs. Her body is also more elongated, which allows her to lay a large number of eggs in a shorter period.

Another physical change in a queen bee is her reproductive organs. Queen bees have fully developed ovaries that allow them to lay eggs throughout their entire lifespan. They also have a spermatheca, a special organ that stores the sperm from the drones during mating. This allows the queen bee to fertilize the eggs she lays and produce genetically diverse offspring.

The Behavioral Changes in a Queen Bee

In addition to the physical changes that occur in a queen bee, there are also behavioral changes that take place. These changes are a result of the hormones present in the royal jelly and the social status that a queen bee holds within the colony.

One behavioral change in a queen bee is her aggression towards other queen bees. When there are multiple queens in a colony, they will fight to the death until only one queen remains. This behavior is essential to ensure that there is only one reproductive female in the colony, as having multiple queens would result in competition and conflict.

Another behavioral change in a queen bee is her ability to attract drones during mating flights. Queen bees release pheromones that attract drones from other colonies during their mating flights. This ensures that the queen bee mates with drones from genetically diverse colonies, which results in genetically diverse offspring.

The Importance of Queen Bees in a Colony

The queen bee plays a crucial role in the survival and growth of the colony. She is responsible for laying eggs and maintaining the social structure of the colony. The importance of the queen bee is also evident in

the way that the workers treat her. They groom and feed her, as well as care for her eggs and larvae. The queen bee is also responsible for regulating the behavior and development of the worker bees through the release of pheromones.

If a colony does not have a queen bee, the workers will start to exhibit erratic behavior and the colony may eventually die. Therefore, the selection and development of a new queen bee is crucial for the survival and growth of the colony.

Conclusion

The process of how a bee becomes a queen is a fascinating one that involves both physical and behavioral changes. From the selection of a potential queen to the feeding of royal jelly and the development of her reproductive and behavioral traits, the queen bee plays a crucial role in the survival and growth of the colony.

As we continue to learn more about the complex social structures of bees, it becomes increasingly clear just how important these tiny creatures are to the world around us. Understanding the process of how a bee becomes a queen not only helps us appreciate the intricate workings of a bee colony, but also highlights the critical role that bees play in pollination and food production.

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