Worker, explorer, nurse, queen bee…
The queen lays an egg inside one of the cells of the honeycomb. It is an egg that is not yet a worker or a queen. It will grow for 3 days, hatch and then be fed with royal jelly, and after 6 days with a mixture of pollen and honey. It will first be a larvae which will form a kind of cocoon, like butterflies do. Inside the cocoon will be a nymph, who will grow and turn into an adult bee. After 21 days, the adult worker bee will break the wax cap of its cell and run free.
There is actually various arrays of specialization inside the hive: a sort of caste system which relies on the sex and types of bees. We have the classic worker bee: she works on producing food. There is the queen, who’s function is only to lay eggs. She does not have any other power than that, she does not decide anything. We can also find males who’s function is to allow reproduction. Their only task will be to fertilize the queens, at a given time.
Time also plays a role, especially among worker bees. When young, just out of their cocoon, they will become nurses. Then they will go through several stages which, once older, will lead them to become foragers or even explorers. The most specialized forager bees will be the ones which will locate new sources of food. Is interesting to see how evolution as naturally led older bees to be the ones taking risks outdoors. And vice-versa, taking care of the inside of the hive and the close surroundings of the colony is a job for younger bees.
To know more on the topic:
- 📄 “Spore & Pollen“, our research project focusing on the bee and the impact of climate change on pollinators
- 🔊 “An open-source bee for a poisonous environment” (with beekeeper and biologist Julien Perrin) — Podcast (~35min) 🇬🇧🇫🇷
- 🔊 Umwelt of the bee