Do Bees Lay Eggs? The Intricate World of Bumblebees and Honeybees

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 10th, 2023

Do bees lay eggs? It’s a question that intrigues not just entomologists but also gardeners, beekeepers, and anyone fascinated by nature. The answer opens up a captivating, intricate world that stretches from the industrious honeybee colonies to the more reclusive bumblebees. Whether you’re an aspiring beekeeper, a nature enthusiast, or simply curious, you’ll find answers that go beyond the “yes” or “no” to unveil how these remarkable insects continue to thrive and contribute to our ecosystem.

Bee Basics: Do They Really Lay Eggs?

Yes, female bees, primarily the queens, do lay eggs. These eggs are the genesis of new bee life. The eggs are typically white and bear a resemblance to a grain of rice. Comprising an outer shell known as a chorion, the bee eggs are vulnerable but instrumental for a colony’s survival.

Do Bees Lay Eggs

A Queen’s Responsibility: Laying Eggs and Maintaining Order

The queen bee is the keystone of her hive’s survival, especially when it comes to laying eggs. Before setting down her eggs, she meticulously travels along the comb, inspecting each cell. Honeybee queens lay an astonishing 2,000 to 3,000 eggs per day while establishing their colony. Throughout her lifetime, she has the potential to lay up to 1.5 million eggs. This isn’t just about numbers; the eggs she lays determine the hive’s future, from worker bees that will forage for food to drones that will help in reproduction.

How Bee Genetics Work: Males, Females, and Fertilized Eggs

Both honey bees and bumble bees have an intriguing way to determine the sex of their offspring. Queens or mature egg-laying females decide whether the offspring will be male or female. A queen uses stored sperm to fertilize an egg if she wants it to be female. Unfertilized eggs result in males. This dynamic is fundamental in maintaining a well-balanced colony.

A Curious Phenomenon: Egg-Eating in Bees

Though it may sound unusual, some bee species practice egg-eating to regulate their population. Eggs laid are consumed shortly after being deposited. This act serves as a form of population control but can also lead to internal strife within the hive, especially if worker bees get involved.

The Genetic Oddity of Male Bees

Male bees are an anomaly in the bee world; they’re born from unfertilized eggs, meaning they don’t have a father. Despite this, they do have a grandpa, as their mother was born from a fertilized egg. This unique genetic makeup, called haplodiploidy, is a subject of continued scientific study.

The Role of Adult Female Bees in Solitary Species

Unlike honeybees or bumblebees, adult females in solitary bee species have a more temporary presence during egg development. They lay an egg in a sealed cell and die soon after. This ensures the survival and continuation of the species, as the sealed eggs eventually hatch into new progeny.

Worker Bees: More than Just Foragers

In both honey bee and bumble bee colonies, it’s the worker bees that take care of the young. They’re responsible for providing honey, royal jelly, and other nutrients. They also play a role in policing the hive, often removing or eating eggs laid by other workers to maintain order.

The Intricate Life Cycle of Honeybees

From egg to adult, honeybees undergo a transformative journey. The queen lays her eggs in the honeycomb, and the worker bees ensure they are well-fed. The larvae then enter the pupa stage, securely encased in a cocoon within the honeycomb cell. After the metamorphosis is complete, they emerge as fully developed adults, ready to contribute to the hive in a myriad of ways, from foraging for food to defending the colony.


So, do bees lay eggs? Absolutely. But the story doesn’t just end there; it dives deep into a fascinating world of queens, worker bees, drones, and even solitary bee species. The egg-laying process is just a glimpse into the complex, well-orchestrated life of bees that are essential to our ecosystem. The more we understand about them, the more we can appreciate their significance and work to protect these indispensable pollinators.


Editorial Staff

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