The Birds and the Bees of Honeybees

After decades of producing raw and unfiltered local honey, we’ve learned a thing or two about bees. In fact, keeping authentic local honey pure, and the flowers that help make that honey properly pollinated requires intimate knowledge of bees: what flowers bees like, what weather bees love, and even how bees reproduce. Here’s a peek into the fascinating world of bee reproduction going on in our hives from coast to coast.

A bee colony is one of the most complex societies in the entire animal kingdom, and keeping up those numbers while fighting off predators, maintaining the hive and producing honey is no simple task. To carry out these tasks, there is a clear separation of jobs within the hive.

A colony of bees relies heavily on its queen, who spends great portions of her life reproducing, sometimes laying up to 2000 eggs a day. The lone queen usually gives birth to all of the tens of thousands of bees in her hive. The rest of the hive has more important things to attend to – like making honey.

When a new queen is a week or two old, she will take to the sky and meet thousands of male suitors, ultimately mating with about 6-24 drones on her mating flight. After this, she’ll be able to fertilize eggs for up to seven years, starting within a day or two, and it’s her choice to lay either fertilized workers (female) and unfertilized drones (male) depending on what the colony needs. Thankfully, she always has a team of helpful worker bees by her side, so she can focus on laying eggs and deciding which ones to fertilize.

For a drone, reproduction looks very different. From the day he’s born, he can’t do much to defend the hive or feed himself. He lives his entire life in the hope of mating with a queen. He regularly flies out to drone congregating areas where queen pheromones attract drones for mating.  But when it happens, the sparks will fly and the hive will thrive. Happy Valentine’s Day!