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  • Writer's pictureCJ Turner

Telling the Difference Between a Queen Bee, a Drone, and a Worker Bee

What is a Queen Bee (Female)

The queen bee is the sole bee able to lay fertilized eggs (Worker Bees). Without her a hive will die, as no worker bees will be born.

To make a new queen, worker bees will feed fertilized eggs “royal jelly” so that one of the larvae will grow into a queen. Without any fertilized larvae from a queen, this is not possible. The queen has her own attendant worker bees to make sure she is healthy and laying as she should, and finding her in the hive is quite the sight to see

What to Look For

Queen bees have an elongated abdomen making them stand out from the workers and drones. In the photo below, you can see she has some yellow paint on her. Markings such as this are placed on Queen bees so that beekeepers can make sure she is still present in the hive. Because, as stated before, her illness or absence in the hive is certain death if not remedied quickly.

What is a Worker Bee

Worker bees are the female bees in the hive that pretty much do all the work. They tend to the queen, they collect pollen and nectar, feed the young, make honey etc. They can also lay drone eggs in the absence of a queen (Laying Workers). They only live for around 4-6 weeks, as they quite literally work themselves to death and are truly remarkable creatures.

What to Look For

Worker bees are probably what you think of when you think of a bee. They are smaller than the queen, and are the bees you see out and about, or on your flowers. They have prominent stripes and are generally a beautiful caramel color. And if you look closely, you can even see they’re a bit fuzzy

What is a Drone Bee

Drone bees or “Drones” are the male bees in the hive, and don’t do much other than mate with the queen to produce fertilized eggs. They mate by going on “mating flights” and then, after mating with the queen, they have served their life‘s purpose and will quickly die.

What to Look For

As you can see in the above image, they are generally larger than worker bees and have very large eyes. They tend to be a bit darker in coloring in comparison to the queen and worker bees. If there is an abundance of drone brood (capped cells that stick out of the comb) *see below* that may be a sign the queen is either sick or dead, and action must be taken.

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