Honey Bee Life Cycle: The Ultimate Guide

Dawson Steele

Bee-ing the bee expert is quite tricky and complicated. But, if you’ve got the buzz to learn all about bee castes, stages in their life cycle (mainly eggs, brood nest, open brood and capped brood), then step right up! It’s a journey of learning some of the most fascinating things ever!

Different Caste Roles, Yet the Same Honey Bee Life Cycle: An Overview

Honey bees go through four distinct life cycle phases of egg, larva, pupa and adult over the course of 4 to 6 weeks in the summer months. Let’s explore each of these stages in more detail to show how emerging adult honey bees take on different roles in the colony once they have hatched!


A queen can lay up to 1500 eggs a day! The smooth, oval-shaped eggs are between 1/3 to 1/2 an inch long and can range in color from white to pale yellow. The worker bees carry them in their mouths and put them into individual cells to avoid breakage.


Three days later, the eggs hatch into small white grub-like larvae without any legs. These hungry little creatures need to be fed by the worker bees all day long! As they outgrow their skin (known as molting), their worm-like shape becomes more apparent. When about 3/4 of an inch in size, it is on to the pupal stage!


The larvae spin cocoons around themselves before beginning the metamorphosis process that will leave them as adults in another 4-6 days. All it takes is for these ingenious adult honey bees to chew through their cocoons at just right time!

Adult Honey Bees

Right away, all of these new bee bee begin by taking care of the queen by feeding her royal jelly and cleaning up after her. But as they get older they have plenty of other tasks like gathering nectar and pollen for storage in combs at the hive or even guarding the entryway!

Supersedure Cells in Honey Bees- What Are They?

Supersedure cells look like regular queen cups in size and shape- smooth-walled cells that hang off of the bottoms of frames in your hive. You might see them on the sides of frames in your brood nest or at the bottom of combs. There is no set size for these cells but they’ll get bigger as time passes and old queens age- by about a quarter in diameter by the end of their development!

Keeping Check on Your Hive to Keep it Thriving

It’s important to keep an eye on your hive to check for new entries of supersedure cells- it keeps you aware of what is going on with your colony and also allows for any potential issues to be handled before they get worse. Larger supersedure cells usually point out that it may have been too long since replacement- but small ones show good progress all through!

Why Capped Brood is Important

What is Capped Brood?

Capped brood is the stage in the honey bee life cycle when the developing larvae of worker bees are sealed off in small cells for up to 5-10% of the colony. It is a necessary step in their development before they can emerge as fully formed workers but it can also be a tell-tale sign of Queen failing or even if no Queen is present at all.

Why it Matters for Worker Bees

The average time for a mother to create a single worker bee can take up to three weeks on average, but if for some reason it takes longer for whole batches of them to form, other bees in the colony may start to think something is wrong and try to break into it before it’s too late by uncapping it or worse – destroy it. The problem with this though is that in the winter season, having Drone Laying Worker Bees can put whole colonies at risk as they use up more of the food reserves trying to keep them alive when they need to get down to their lowest population in order to survive through winter.

Is there anything I can do about it?

Yes! Check for capped frames in your hive in late summer or early fall before becoming too cold for drones to go out and mate. If you see un-natural drone frames then it may be time for an intervention! Keep an eye out for aberrant cell forms to avoid putting your whole colony at risk once it’s time for Winter preparations.

Why Understanding the Honey Bee Life Cycle is Vital for Our Future

The Laying of an Egg and its Hatching into a Larva

The honey bee life cycle is quite impressive! It all begins when a queen bee lays an egg in a cell of the honeycomb, after which it hatches into a larva in three days. This larva will then feast on a combination of pollen and honey for six days before it goes through ‘cell capping’, in which it creates a cocoon to begin its transformation into and adult bee. This process can take up to six days before it is out of the cocoon and newly transformed into an adult! It can take up to two weeks for it to fully mature into a bee at this stage before it begins to search for a mate to start its own colony.

Understanding The Need To Have Bees For Pollination Purposes

It is absolutely essential for all of us- no matter our profession-to understand why it is so important to have bees around us! Bees play an integral role in pollinating plants in order for them to reproduce. Also, think about how delicious fruits like peaches, apples and oranges would taste if they weren’t here! Maybe even worse- whole species like blueberries have no chance of survival without these marvelous creatures!

Final Word on The Viability of Bee Populations From Now On

Nowadays, global warming has been at alarmingly high levels for many years now- this bad news for bees as their food sources are put at risk due to lack of stable climates for foraging. As such, we must all take charge in preserving bee populations by refraining from overusing pesticides that have been proven toxic to both bees themselves and their predators. Doing small efforts like planting flowers nearby our homes can also help improve their habitats! All in all let us get proactively involved in saving these crucial critters before it is too late!

A Close Look at the Miracle of Bee Eggs

The Three Types of Bees in a Hive

Let’s start off by taking a look at the three types of bees in a hive- the queen, drones, and workers. The queen is at the top of the hierarchy- but let’s begin at the bottom by talking about the worker bees. They are sterile females who are in charge of all of the work in the hive- cleaning, building, feeding- it all falls to them. Despite all of their work, their life expectancy is only about 6 weeks- but it is packed full of activity for the good of the hive!

Some of their most important duties include feeding young larvae, caring for the queen, keeping up with cleaning in the hive and guarding its entrance. If you have read my post on honey bee life cycles- then you already know what happens to worker bees once those 6 weeks have come to an end- but let’s take a look at that anyway.

The Life Cycle from Egg to Worker Bee

Every new worker bee has to go through a series of stages before it can start helping out in the hive- all beginning with a small egg! After it hatches into a larva, it then progresses into a pupa before finally emerging as an adult bee.

But before it can start working right away- it has to eat! Pollen is essential for survival- but also keep up their strength they need to consume some bee bread as well! Bee bread is mixture of pollen and nectar or honey that can also have regurgitated bee spit mixed into it (don’t worry- it works like super glue here in keeping all these ingredients together in one compact ball!).

Once all this food is down- it is ready to get to work for six short weeks before dying off like all other worker bees before it! Let’s move up through our cast and see what other jobs need to be filled!

Drone Duties

Ah yes- let’s talk about drones for just a second! All throughout their lives their job is to help create more members for this tiny society by mating with queens! But firstly they have to fight off all other drones for this chance at royal love! If they succeed then they have done all they can do!

They have no use anymore unfortunately once they give in to death so they must try to leave behind as many children as possible before leaving this earth through mating with many different virgin queens! I think we can give them credit where it is due no matter how unromantic or gross we think this whole ordeal might be right?

An Exploration of Larva Development

Definition of Larva and What to Expect

Larvae are the immature form of many insects and other invertebrates, and they typically have a worm-like appearance. While different larvae have different features, in general they can’t move around very much and lack any sort of limbs. They also tend to have a distinct head end and tail end, with the head end being more prominent. But in contrast to other stages of development like nymphs and grubs, larvae are actively growing and need to feed in order to keep developing into adulthood.

The Larva of a Bee

The larva stage for bees is quite unique in that it has several names including bee larva, grub, caterpillar, and pupa. When it comes to the queen bee in charge of laying up to 1,500 eggs in one day for her colony all at once, these eggs have potential to become either new workers or new queens.

When it hatches into a tiny white grub-like creature no bigger than a grain of rice and is completely helpless, it is cared for by worker bees who use a mixture of pollen and honey called ‘brood food’ for nutrition but will begin to eat on its own once it can take solid food.

As it grows through several stages over about two weeks before it is finished with metamorphosis into an adult bee by spinning a cocoon – the larvae is seen to go through various shedding stages before it is ready for pupation in its own special cell provided by the worker bees in its hive.

The Castes of the Amazing Honey Bee Life Cycle

Worker Bees

Worker bees are female and have different tasks depending on their age. As soon as they leave the larvae stage, they help in the hive by caring for the queen and young bees. As they get older, their job is to go out into the field to get pollen and nectar to keep the colony fed. With their wings, worker bees help to cool down the hive when it gets hot outside.

Sensory Apparatus

Honey bees have five eyes, two of which are small but can see in light-filled areas; and three at the top of its head for help seeing in dim light. All over its body is covered in hair, and it also has a long straw-like tongue for drinking up nectar from flowers and consuming pollen – like food!


These tough little insects have two sets of wings that help them get around, with their front set being larger than their hind set. When at rest, all four of their wings are held up over its back vertically. by at least reversing the order of the sections

Drone Bees: A Closer Look at the Incredible Life Cycle of Honey Bees

The Queen Bee

The queen bee is typically the mother of all the worker bees in a colony, and there is only ever one queen in residence at once. She can live up to five years but usually doesn’t make it past two or three before it’s time for a new queen to take over. Since workers choose to crown a new queen when the old lady is too old or unproductive, they keep her eggs safe until they can begin to develop into a fresh young larva that will take on the role of reigning over the hive.

The Drones

Drones are the big-eyed, non-stinging male bees of their respective colonies. You can expect to find about just a few hundred drones in each colony, as opposed to the multiple thousands of worker and queen bees in residence at once. Drones have an appetite for adventure as they leave their hives in search of virginal queens to mate with but even if they get lucky, it’s up to the worker bees to put a stop to any nuptials before they start! Unfortunately for them, their non-existent stingers mean they can’t help with any of the work at home anyway.


Between queens ruling for up two five years at most and all the hard-working drones out on dates all over town, honeybee colonies have no shortage of incredible activities occurring non-stop. As it stands now, humans are far more fascinated by these dynamic little buzzing agents of nature than expected!

Final Thoughts

The honey bee is an incredible creature! From the tiny egg to the fully-fledged adult, it is truly amazing to see the miraculous transformation of a bee in its full life cycle. I’ve also learned about all of the different stages they go through – including eggs, open and capped brood, and the fascinating brood nest! After getting to look into all of the caster and stages of a honey bee’s life cycle I have nothing but admiration for these hard-working bees. They have my utmost respect!

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