Do Bees Lay Eggs? Bumblebee & Honeybees

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on January 6th, 2023

The quick answer is:

Do bees lay eggs? Yes, all bees lay eggs (except the males, of course!). Most eggs are white and resemble a grain of rice. Bee eggs, however, can vary in size depending on the species. Eggs contain a fragile outer shell called a chorion, which dissolves or is lost as the egg develops and hatches into a larva.

Do Bees Lay Eggs

Information about Bees and Eggs

  • Before depositing her eggs, the queen travels along the comb, carefully inspecting each cell.
  • The quantity of eggs laid by bees varies according to species. While establishing her colony, honey bee queens lay between 2,000 and 3,000 eggs daily. During her active life, she has the potential to lay 1.5 million eggs.
  • The queens of bumble bees and honey bees, as well as mature egg-laying solitary females, decide whether their offspring will be male or female.
  • Some bee species may engage in egg-eating to destroy them, which is the act of consuming eggs shortly after they have been placed.
  • Male bees are born from unfertilized eggs and hence lack a father, but they have a grandpa.
  • Honey bee eggs are around the size of a single grain of rice, measuring 1 to 1.5 mm long.
  • Fertilized eggs develop into female worker bees, while unfertilized eggs develop into drones or honey bee males. For a colony to thrive, the queen must lay fertilized eggs, which hatch into worker bees, which hunt for food and care for the colony.
  • A young queen lays her eggs in an orderly sequence, each egg nestled next to others within a cell. Queens begin laying eggs in the middle of the cell frame, allowing workers to put honey, royal jelly, and other larval nourishment on the outside borders. On the other hand, the queen produces fewer eggs in a less structured manner as she ages.
  • Her powerful pheromones (body odors) keep the colony together and discourage worker bees from laying eggs.

How bees lay eggs

Adult females deposit eggs in solitary bee species, most of whom will not be present throughout egg development. Adult solitary species, on the other hand, deposit an egg in a cell, which they subsequently shut up. The adult female will then die, and the eggs will hatch into the new progeny, ensuring future generations of bees.

The queen is the egg layer in honey bee and bumble bee colonies. The employees will look after the children.

When an egg is placed, the female or queen chooses whether to create males or females. If a girl is to be born from an egg, the egg will be fertilized with sperm when it exits the spermatheca. Males are born from unfertilized eggs.

Diploidy and haplodiploid

Male bees, contrary to popular belief, do not have a father, but they do have a grandpa. This refers to the fact that male bees are born from unfertilized eggs and hence have just their mothers’ genetic material. Male bees are haploid, whereas female bees are haplodiploid. Because its mother was born from a fertilized egg, the male bee still has a “grandfather.”

Females are diploid, which means they are born from fertilized eggs and acquire genetic material from their mother and father.

Honey and bumble bees, as well as egg eaters, are egg-laying workers.

The queens of bumble bees and honey bee colonies lay eggs. However, worker females may deposit eggs at various times. Workers can only generate males; they cannot produce females since they have not mated and hence have no stored sperm to fertilize any eggs they may deposit.

Bumble bee

Later in the growth of a bumble bee colony, female workers who largely stay in the nest (rather than foragers) may build egg cells to deposit eggs. In retaliation, the queen may devour these eggs and then deposit her eggs in the wax cells.

Further retribution is possible, and the workers may consume the queen’s eggs. This behavior has been seen in various bumble bee species and is thought to be widespread.

Egg consumption can cause strife in the colony, and the queen may even be murdered by her workers.

Honey Bees

Workers’ eggs are frequently killed in a queenright colony (one where the queen has mated and is actively laying eggs), sometimes eaten by other workers policing the hive.

However, honey bee workers may begin laying eggs when there is no queen or when brood pheromone levels are low (and perhaps insufficient queen pheromone). Workers place multiple eggs in a single wax hexagonal cell when they lay eggs, typically off to the side or off-center.

Unless a recently mated queen is in the early stages of laying, queens usually deposit only one egg per cell. Because she has a longer abdomen, she may deposit the egg in the center of the cell rather than on edge. Any eggs deposited by employees can only result in the production of drones.

The Life Cycle

Before becoming an adult, the honeybee goes through several phases of development. All honeybees, whether they become a queen, a worker, or a drone, must go through the four phases of metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

The queen lays her eggs in the honeycomb cells. Fertilized eggs develop into workers (or a new queen), whereas unfertilized eggs develop into drones. The worker bees labor tirelessly to feed the quickly developing larvae.

Finally, the honeycomb cells are shut so the larvae can spin cocoons and pupate in peace.

When the pupa to adult metamorphosis is complete, the young bee emerges from the cell to take its position in honeybee society. A queen’s development from egg to adult can take as short as 16 days and as long as 24 days for a drone.

Once a worker emerges, her life expectancy can range from a few weeks to nearly a year, depending on the season, food availability, and labor she must perform. The newly emerged worker bee is delicate, fluffy, and underdeveloped.

Various specialized glands will grow during the following few weeks, dictating the role she conducts in the colony. Cleaning, feeding the young brood, putting nectar and pollen in the cells, making wax honeycomb, defending the colony, and lastly, nectar, pollen, propolis, and water collecting are all part of the job.


Editorial Staff

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