The life cycle of the Honey Bee

The life cycle of the Honey Bee

The life cycle of the Honey bee has 4 main stages or phases, egg, larva, pupa and adult. Honey bee colonies are generally perennial with the exceptions of bumble bee and paper wasp colonies. The bee colonies consist of three castes, Queen Bee, worker bee and drones (males). Queen bees lay eggs, worker bees are not producing eggs and drones are for a mating purpose.

Honey bees developmental time

The total developmental time for a Queen bee is 16 days, for worker bee is 21 days and approximately 24 days for drone bee. The four distinct honey bee life cycle stages are:

The life cycle of the honey bees

Egg stage

Egg stage is the first stage of development in the life cycle. Eggs are very small and have the appearance of poppy seeds in shape. Every egg has an opening on the broader side that enables a sperm to penetrate in. Eggs will hatch normally after three days of egg laying.

Larva stage

This stage generally lasts up to nine odd days. During this stage, hatched larva is almost microscopic in size without legs and eyes. Larva is fed on a diet known as royal jelly for initial two days. As the third day progresses larvae that are destined to develop into queen bees continue to fed on royal jelly, while worker larvae feed on honey, water and pollens. The larval stage for queen bee lasts for 5.5 days, 6 days for worker bees and 6.5 days for drones.

Pupa stage

Reorganisation of tissues massively takes place during the pupal stage. The worm-like body has now three distinct parts of the body. This stage usually lasts for 7.5 days for the queen bee, 12 days for worker bee and 14.5 days for drone bee (male bee).

Adult Stage

All three types of bees are now fully grown and are fully ready to accomplish their tasks. A typical colony of honey bee consists of 50,000 to 60,000 worker bees, 600 to 1000 drone bees and only 1 queen bee.


Source: By Waugsberg - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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