We will discuss here about the life cycle of honey bee and their stages. When a young bee grows into a fertile female the old queen leaves the hive with hundreds of drones and workers to avoid conflicts.
They fly away in a group, it is called swarming. Then they build a new hive at another place.
The young female then becomes the new queen of the old hive and soon after taking the post of new queen the young female flies away followed by several drones. This is known as marriage flight. During the flight the queen mates with a single drone. After that worker bees help the newly married queen to come back to its hive. After a few days the queen starts laying eggs. It may lay about two thousand eggs per day. Some of these eggs remain unfertilized. Fertilized eggs develop into females and unfertilized eggs give birth to male bees.
Following stages are found in the life cycle
(i) Egg: Queen lays single egg in each brood cell. Bee eggs are small white or pinkish in color and cylindrical in shape. After three days the eggs hatch.
(ii) Larva: Honey-bee larvae are white worm-like creatures. They do not have any crawling appendage and any organ of vision. Worker bees feed and nurse the larvae.
(iii) Pupa: The larvae are fed until they are fully grown. Now the workers seal the cells with pollen and wax. Within the closed chamber a larva transforms into a pupa. In this stage legs, wings, eyes and mouth parts are developed.
(iii) Imago: After the development of all adult organs the imago emerges from the chamber by breaking the wax seal. Different castes need different times to complete their life cycle. A queen takes two weeks to emerge as an adult. Drones and workers need 24 and 21 days respectively for their complete metamorphosis.