A bee life cycle has 4 key stages, whether they be honey bees, bumblebees or solitary bees. These 4 key stages are:
There are, however, significant variations between the species, and even within the role of the bee in its colony.
For example, a queen honey bee is reared differently from worker honey bees and drones, and has a much longer life span than either (there is a link to my page 'How Long Do Bees Live' included below).
Honey bee queens may for up to four or five years. Unlike other members of the colony, she remains within the nest or bee hive almost all of her life, producing thousands of eggs, until she eventually produces a replacement queen. However, this is not the end of the life of the current queen. The existing queen will take off in a swarm with part of the colony, in order to establish a new nest, and more generations of honey bees.
The queen honey bee's life will only be cut short due to disease or
mishap, or possibly she will be replaced by the colony if she lays too
few eggs and is therefore under-performing for the colony.
Drones and workers, will live for only a few weeks, but possibly a few months, depending on their role in the colony and the time of year when they were born.
In any event, honey bee colonies in themselves, go through cycles. From the beginning when they are first establishing the colony in a new nest or bee hive, the colony will go through the processes of:
And so on it goes.
Then again, the life of a queen bumblebee is very different from that of a queen honey bee.
She will live for the duration of 9 - 12 months, and unlike the honey bee queen, bumblebee queens must do all the work in the initial stages of establishing the colony.
Only when worker bees have been reared can colony tasks be shared, not that things get easier for the queen!
Like honey bees, workers and males also have short life spans, but even the queen bumblebee will not usually survive beyond a year. It is the new queens only, who establish future generations of bumblebees. The new queens mate, then hibernate as impregnated queens, to emerge early the following spring.
There are many different types of solitary bees. Some species may, for
example, over-winter as adults, whilst others may over-winter as
full-grown larvae, and mature into adult bees the following spring.
Below, you'll find more detailed information about the bee life cycle, according to species, on these links.
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