Are you looking for some fun facts about queen bees? From how they become the queen to what they eat, check out these amazing queen bee facts!
There might be hundreds or thousands of drones and worker bees in each hive, but there is only one queen bee. The one and only queen is the reason the hive even exists!
This queen bee is so important, every aspect of life in the hive revolves around her. Without the queen, the entire hive will die.
Can you think of another animal on earth that is so dependent on its leader?
You’re about to find out why this is all so fascinating in our fun facts about queen bees – they really are remarkable creatures!
Did you know queen bees will eat or kill any other bees that could potentially be queen? It’s a queen eat queen world out there.
But, while the queen plays many important roles in the hive, she is not the ultimate ruler. Seems a bit confusing, huh?
Regardless, bees are an incredibly essential part of society. They are one of the most important pollinators, and many of the plants we love, from flowers to food and other plants, are dependent on bees.
Plus, who doesn’t love a bit of honey on some toast or in their tea? Right, it’s time to learn all about the hive in our queen bee facts!
20 Fun Facts About Queen Bees
1. Queen bees aren’t born as queens
Queen bees have many jobs, but the main one is to lay eggs. When a queen bee dies or has to leave the hive, worker bees then decide which fertilized egg will be the next queen. They do this by feeding the larvae royal jelly, along with other food. This isn’t a joke – they actually do feed it royal jelly. Amazing.
2. It’s a queen-eat-queen world
When a new queen hatches, one of her first tasks in life is to remove any potential threats to her rule. To do this, the young bee opens up the shells of the other potential queens and kills them. There can only be one queen after all.
3. Take your throne, your highness
Finally, after destroying her rivals, the new queen bee must take the throne. In rare circumstances, the previous queen is still around. When this happens, the new and old queens must fight to the death.
Queen bees, unlike workers or drones, can sting repeatedly without losing their stinger. The queens will sting each other until one succumbs.
4. Queens are big
While queen bees are built just like workers and drones with a head, wings, thorax, and abdomen, they are much bigger. Their abdomen is usually a different color, and their wings are not as big as workers and drones.
Queens are usually double the size of other bees, as well.
5. They change size as they age
Queen bees are the biggest in the hive, yes. They are usually around 20 millimeters long in adulthood. However, new queens that haven’t laid eggs are shorter and smaller in their abdomen than fully mature and laying queens.
6. She plays important roles
As mentioned, the primary job of the queen bee is to lay eggs. The queen lays all the eggs that will hatch into every bee in the hive. She lays male and female eggs. But the queen also releases pheromones that aid in bee communication in the hive.
7. They have a specific diet
The majority of a queen bee’s diet is royal jelly. This unique substance is from specific worker bees called nurse bees. Nurse bees pre-digest this jelly and feed it directly to the queen.
It is likely this royal jelly is what lengthens the queen’s life compared to workers and drones. Queen bees will also eat pollen, nectar, and honey sparingly.
8. Queens live a long time (for bees)
The average lifespan of a worker bee is only a couple of weeks. However, queen bees can live for up to seven years! That’s a long and fruitful life for such a small creature.
However, in recent years, queen bees have been living shorter lives, in many cases only two years. People think this could be the rise of pollution in the air that is shortening their lives.
9. There are three types of queen bee cells
Queen bees grow in a special type of cell. It must be bigger since queens are bigger than regular bees. Worker bees create these cells differently depending on how and when a new queen is coming.
Workers build swarm cells to replace a queen when a hive divides. They create supersedure cells to replace an old queen while emergency cells are for replacing a queen that died suddenly.
10. She grows up fast
A queen bee only requires six days to grow to full maturity. This is much faster than worker bees, which require nine days. This queen bee fact is even more interesting when you consider how much longer a queen bee lives than other bees.
11. It’s not one queen to rule them all
While she might have the name queen, she is not an absolute monarch. Her role is more motherly. Bees are a rather democratic species. Scientists have found that bees actually vote on some things.
We do know they communicate through body language, chemicals, and pheromones.
12. Queens have a unique smell
Humans can tell a queen bee by its size, it’s fairly obvious to us. However, bees know their queen by her smell. Queen bees release pheromones that aid in communication in the hive. That’s a smelly fact about queen bees!
13. Like a virgin
When a new queen takes the throne, she has to mate so she can lay eggs. One of the most interesting queen bee facts is that they only mate once in their life.
The new queen will leave the hive for a couple of days and mate with up to 30 drones. She then stores the sperm in her spermatheca to use when she needs it.
14. When she’s out, she’s really out
When a queen bee runs out of stored sperm, the hive will remove her. So, potentially, a queen bee lives with sperm in her special storage pouch for seven years!
15. She’s a bossy queen
Along with laying all the eggs in the hive, the queen handles assigning roles to every other bee.
She directs behavior and organizes work assignments to ensure there is a good balance in the hive and every task is complete. The queen communicates these roles with pheromones.
16. Queen bees can fly if needed
Queen bees have bigger bodies and smaller wings than workers and drones. On a daily basis, queens can’t fly well or high.
However, if the hive swarms, i.e. divide because it’s too large, the workers will restrict the diet of the queen so she can fly to a new hive. Just before she leaves, she will create a new queen for the current hive. Then, the old queen and around half of the drones and workers will leave.
17. She is the only mature female in the hive
There are many females in the hive, as all worker and nurse bees fall in this category. However, these other females will never reach sexual maturity. Their job is to collect and produce food or care for young bees.
18. Two types of eggs
Queen bees lay eggs most of the day. In fact, she can lay up to 2,000 eggs in a single day! And, queens lay two different types of eggs, both are about one millimeter in length.
Fertilized eggs are female and become workers, or maybe a queen. Unfertilized eggs are male and become drones.
19. Queens don’t always die of old age
Sometimes, a queen flies away from the hive and dies on her own as a result of old age or disease. However, many times another bee or bees kill her. If a new queen hatches and challenges the old queen, one stabs the other to death with her stinger.
Other times, the worker bees decide it’s time for a new queen. They kill her by balling, where the workers surround the queen to raise her body temperature. She overheats and dies.
20. They organize attacks
Africanized honey bees are especially aggressive. This strain of bees is becoming common in the southwestern United States. Throughout the area, Africanized queen honey bees overtake non-Africanized hives and kill the docile queen.
After a few weeks with the new queen, the entire hive becomes Africanized.
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
Queen bees are an incredible part of the animal kingdom. These queen bee facts should give a new appreciation for their unique role and life.
Which of these facts about queen bees has you making a bee-line for a jar of honey? If we’ve missed any, let us know and we’ll add them to this article!