Many insects have a very short lifespan. Bees are no exception. A bee is a flying insect with a relatively short lifespan.
How long do bees live? This question is usually of interest to young beekeepers and ordinary, curious people. Three months, six months or a year? Maybe a couple of years? Unfortunately, no. The life of a bee is calculated in months and even weeks. The main reason for a short lifespan is intensive work: maintaining the brood, cleaning the hive, collecting pollen, nectar and honey production.
The lifespan of a bee depends on the type of bee it is. Drones die shortly after mating and live for about eight weeks. Worker bees usually live up to six weeks during the summer and five months or more during the winter. The queen bee, the only fertile bee in the colony, can live for several years.
Factors Affecting Bee Life
The number of one bee colony can be expressed in tens of thousands of bees. During the year, their number is constantly changing, which is related to their life expectancy. The changes are not just about the queen bee – she is always alone.
There are many factors that determine how long bees live. Bees die from natural causes, sometimes they can be eaten by other animals or killed by other bees. Worker bees can die from overwork. However, the biggest threat to bees is a disease or infection that in severe cases can destroy entire colonies.
The lifespan of bees in nature depends on certain conditions:
- Seasons. For example, autumn bees live longer than spring bees.
- Social category. The queen bee lives longer than everyone, and the worker bee lives the least.
- The strength of the bee community. In weak bee colonies, bees die faster,
- Activity during the honey collection period. The more they collect, the more they become exhausted. Physically tired insects do not live long.
- Ecological situation in the breeding area. In favorable regions, insects live longer.
- Diseases and pests. Infectious diseases or pests can affect the hive for various reasons. Bees with a weakened organism and immune system will not live long.
- Cleanliness of the hive. After wintering, be sure to clean the hive. Insect droppings remain on the walls, and these are unhygienic conditions. A dirty hive negatively affects the health of all individuals and reduces their lifespan.
How Long Do Honey Bees Live?
The lifespan of honey bees depends significantly on climatic conditions. Warm days and pleasant summer weather allow the bee to feel comfortable and work calmly for 35-45 days. Overwintered honey bees have a much shorter lifespan of 25-30 days.
Bees, born in late summer, are much more likely to survive during the fall, a third of which makes a transition to the winter months.
Bees bred in late October make a transition into winter, most of them die in early spring. This is influenced by several factors:
- night temperature drops;
- insufficient pollen;
- not enough food;
- weakened immunity.
How Long Do Worker Bees Live?
Worker bees are the most numerous hive members. In one community, their number ranges from a few thousand to several tens of thousands. Their number directly depends on the season and grazing conditions.
In and out of the hive, the worker bees do almost all the work. These bees have numerous responsibilities: they have to collect nectar, supply water, build combs, clean them, keep the hive safe, create a real microclimate in it and feed the rest of the family: the queen, drones and larvae.
Naturally, due to the large number of functions, worker bees consume a lot of energy. This affects their life expectancy, which is calculated in days. I am saddened by this fact, but it is as it is.
In the spring and in the first half of summer, worker bees work intensively and are therefore excessively exhausted and live up to 40 days, while in the second half of summer, when grazing is reduced, they live a little longer, up to 60 days.
It is interesting that during the summer, about 1,000 worker bees die in each hive every day, but even more are born in 24 hours, because the young queen lays more than 2,000 eggs a day. The cycle from the egg stage to hatching is 21 days.
How Long Does A Queen Bee Live?
The queen bee has a very important function in the colony and, as I previously mentioned, the queen has the longest lifespan. On average it can live 2-3 years, but sometimes it can live up to 5 years.
This lifespan is due to the fact that the queen has the sole duty of reproducing offspring. All the energy is spent on it.
All members of the bee community take care of the queen bee, protect it, feed it. All the food of the uterus is royal beebread, the most valuable product rich in nutrients and proteins.
A week after the new queen comes out of her cell, she makes several flights to mate with as many as 20 drones.
After the queen returns to lay her eggs, she rarely leaves the colony. After that, the queen bee lays between 1,000 and 2,000 eggs a day in the hive. If the queen fertilizes the egg, that egg will become a female – a worker bee or queen. However, if the queen bee does not fertilize the egg, it will become a male drone.
The survival of queens in the harsh winter months largely depends on how viable its colony is. A strong group of worker bees protects the queen and regulates her temperature.
The worker bees carefully monitor the queen to make sure she is doing her job well. If it does not lay enough eggs, the worker bees will begin with development of new queens that will replace the old one, a process known as replacement. The new queen is pampered with food and affection, while the old queen is neglected and left to die. In some beekeeping practices, the beekeeper replaces the queen after one or two years.
How Long Do Drones Live?
It is true that drones have no useful purpose in the beehive. They do not provide food, do not feed the young and do not produce wax. In essence, drones consume the resources of the colony and serve only one purpose: to mate with the queen.
Drones leave the hive for the first time six days after hatching, fly to areas known for collecting drones and return to the hive only when they have failed to mate. Successful drones die minutes or hours after mating with the queen, and other drones survive only as long as the worker bees allow it.
If there is a lack of food, worker bees kill or expel drones. Drones rarely survive the winter because worker bees want to protect their limited resources. When the drone is thrown out of the hive, it soon dies of cold or hunger. Because of all this, the average lifespan of a drone is eight weeks.
How Long Do Bees Live After They Sting Someone?
Not infrequently, the appearance of bees causes fear in humans. In order to avoid them, we wave around with our hands, or with an object in our hands, not realizing that we are doing something wrong – we show the bees aggression, and we attract attention to ourselves.
Bees are quite non-aggressive, but in some cases they can sting a person or an animal.
To do this, insects have a stinger, which is normally invisible, and which remains in the body of a stung person or an animal.
In order to tear it off, the insect makes a sharp twitch, so with the sting it often loses part of its internal organs. This leads to the death of the bee, which occurs only a few seconds after the sting.
A bee may not die if it stings a creature that has a protective coating. In this case, the stinger is easily retracted and remains with the bee. After that, its life expectancy will be standard.
An interesting fact. Bees will never sting if their stomachs are full of honey. Additionally, the queen does not kill, even if you mock her – she uses her stinger only when she encounters a rival.
How Can We Improve The Living Conditions Of Bees?
In order to obtain not only good honey, but also to preserve the desired type of bee family, beekeepers need to take care of creating favorable living conditions for these small hard-working animals.
I will be happy to share the tips I found with you.
- Create a high-quality hive (large, for a single family or more, with an internal temperature of at least 14 ° C).
- Allow insects a good wintering (lots of food, water, warm climate).
- Place the hives in areas where there are flowers so that the worker bees have the opportunity to collect as much pollen as possible.
- If necessary, replace the queen bee that lives in the bee family with another before the deadline.
Experienced beekeepers recommend that bees be fed honey or sugar syrup. Feeding provides two functions simultaneously: it helps the queen to reproduce better and encourages the growth of young bees.
How long the bees live is also determined by the number of bee families in the hive. In order to avoid clashing between the existing families, the association process is carried out in accordance with the rules in a certain period.