Life Inside the Hive

July 2nd, 2015

Life Inside the Hive

Honeybees live close together, are considered a social insect, and their home is one giant commune.  The little pockets in the honeycomb, shaped only by the workers, are used as individual cells where eggs are laid.

Bees live and work in the same dark space all year round.  Because no light penetrates, they employ odors, chemicals and dances to communicate.

Life in the hive is strictly hierarchical, much like a military outpost.  Each bee has its role and there is no social mobility or class conflict.  Drones are at the bottom of the ladder – their only job is to fertilize the queen’s eggs.

Next are the worker bees, infertile females who play a variety of roles.

Among workers, there four general jobs: guards, foragers, scouts, and undertakers.  The guards protect the hive from intruders.  Scouts go out and look for food, then come back home and explain where it is.  Foragers gather food and water resources.  And, last, all societies need someone to take care of the dead.  The undertakers remove dead bees from the hive by flying them away.

At the top of this highly structured society is the queen, a much larger female whose only job is to mate and produce eggs.  She flies off to mate with drones from several different colonies.  Unlike workers, who live about four weeks, and drones, who live a bit longer at eight weeks, the queen can have a lifespan of two to five years, and may lay 1500 to 2000 eggs daily throughout her long life.

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