There are four phases in a honey bee cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
Within the hive, there are three types of honey bee: queens (the egg-producers), workers (the non-reproducing females), and drones (the males whose primary duty is to mate with a queen). The total development time is: 16 days for queens, 21 days for workers, and 24 days for drones.
The lifecycle of a honey bee begins with the queen laying a single egg in an upright position in each clean cell. The ratio of female (worker bees) to male (drone bees) is determined by the size of the cell. The smaller cells are for females and the larger cells are for males.
After three days, the egg hatches into a larva (larvae plural). The larvae grow fast by shedding their skin five times. At this stage, they consume 1,300 meals a day! They are first fed royal jelly by nurse bees and then graduate to a mixture of honey and pollen. Within 5 days they grow 1,570 times their original size. Once they have grown, the worker bees seal the larvae into the cell with a small amount of beeswax. The larva then spin a cocoon around their bodies.
The larva then becomes a pupa. At this stage, the pupa beings to transform into an adult and begins to form the adult features of the eyes, legs, and wings. The eyes begin to change color; first pink, then purple, then black. The last thing to appear are the hairs.
After 12 days, the adult bee chews its way through the beeswax cover and finally joins its family.
Only one queen is present at each hive. Once the queen ages or dies or the colony becomes very large, a new queen is placed by the worker bees. If the hive gets too large the old queen takes half the hive and half the stock with her in a swarm.
If there is more then one queen cell they fight it out! The queens come out with a high buzzing noise used to signal their location to the other queens so they can fight. Once there is only one queen left, she chews the sides of any other cell and kills all the losing queens.
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