Have you ever wondered how long do bees live?
Well, the answer to that question is not so straightforward. Unfortunately, you cannot just google it and get one response. Why? There is no one answer.
The lifespan of a bees does vary and it depends on various factors as follows:
- Type of bee
- Human interference
And the list goes on. It’s just like the case with humans – you don’t know how long they live. They live in different conditions and have different lifespans; you can’t say for sure how long, but what does matter is to save the bees, and pro long their life span.
Lucky for us, there is an average life span of bees that we will discuss today, so by the end of this, you will know about all sorts of bees and their lifespan!
There are countless types of bees, so let’s go bee by bee.
HONEY BEE – Age and Life Cycle
Yes, honey bees – the same bees that provide you with the most loved and delicious honey. The countless bees that work their whole lives off just to produce the delightful, sweet, gooey honey that we get to devour.
Speaking of working their whole life, let’s talk about their life cycle. After all, they provide us with honey, getting to know their life cycle is the least we can do!
The life cycle of a honey bee
A honey bee’s life cycle consists of four stages, which is known as complete metamorphosis. The bee has an extreme change from a larva to an adult. The three stages are:
- The egg stage – The start of the bee’s life cycle. After laying eggs, the queen bee determines who will be working and who will be the drones. The fertilized egg becomes a female worker, and the unfertilized becomes the drones or honey bees.
- The Larval Stage – Their skins shed almost five times, and the larvae grow faster. Worker, drone, and queen bees all are fed royal jelly in their initial days as larvae. But after this stage, only the queen bee gets to receive it, while the other bees are switched to honey and pollen.
- The Pupa Stage – The larva forms caps where they will stay until becoming an adult. With the use of the accumulated fat they received while in the larval stage, they grow their wings, legs, internal organs, and other body parts.
- The Adult Stage – The last stage, where they come out, once they have turned into an adult, into the world, and off they go to doing their jobs.
The usual total time taken to become a fully developed adult is around 24 days for drones, 21 days for workers, and 16 days for queen bees.
Noticed how queen bees develop faster? Yeah, well, it is all thanks to their rich diet!
Now, on to the types of honey bees.
1. Queen Bee
Queen bees are literally the queens of the bees. They are responsible for producing eggs that will eventually be the members of the colony. A queen bee cannot survive alone in a colony and thus needs other bees to make honey.
FUN FACT: Queen bees can lay up to thousands of eggs in her life.
As I mentioned before that queen bees develop the earliest; similarly, queen bees live the longest out of the others too!
Naturally, a queen bee will be able to live between 3 to 5 years.
However, at times, beekeepers may replace the queen earlier than that to improve the laying capacity. And if the queen bee dies naturally, the workers will, obviously, raise another queen bee.
2. Drone Bee (Male Bees)
The only thing that drone bees are good at is eating and mating, which is why they are kicked out of their hives before winter. They go out of their hive searching for a queen bee to mate with (which is their only mission in life), and once they have completed their mission, they die. And if they don’t, sadly, they are kicked out and die of starvation.
The drone bees are the honey bees that have the shortest lifespan. They live an average of three weeks to three months. But that’s understandable; they don’t have much to do.
3. Worker Bee
The majority of the bees in the hive are worker bees. There are around 50,000 to 60,000 workers, performing various jobs like caring for the queen, feeding the larvae, foraging for nectar, defending the hive, etc. Their initial part of life is spent in the hive, while the last part is spent gathering nectar and food.
Their lifespan depends upon the time/season that they were born in. So, let’s see: Worker bees born in summer will only live around six to eight weeks due to the heavy workload they have, such as collecting nectar, and so, they work till they die – all for their hive. On the other hand, worker bees born before winter will live longer – five or six months – as their main job is just to keep the queen warm. They don’t have to forage or brood.
BUMBLEBEES – Age and Life Cycle
Let’s move on to another type of bees; the bumblebees. Although they are very similar to honey bees, their lifespan has differences. Unlike honey bees, where their entire colony survives throughout the winter, only the bumblebee queen survives the winter. Checkout our beautiful bumblebee necklace collection.
You already know what we will be starting with; their life cycle!
The life cycle of a bumblebee
Okay, there is not much I could find about their life cycle; however, let me divide the information into stages like I did before to make it easier for you!
- Stage 1 – the queen comes out of hibernation to start a new colony.
- Stage 2 – The female worker bees are produced and begin their job, foraging. And the colony further grows.
- Stage 3 – Male eggs (unfertilized) are laid, and worker larvae develop into a new queen.
- Stage 4 – Males and queens mate
- Stage 5 – the colony is disintegrated; the workers and males die. However, the queen survives, but eventually, it has to die as well.
- Stage 6 – the new queens hibernate, and it starts all over again from step 1.
Wow, if you compare honey bees to bumblebees, they do ten times more work, and literally, work till they die. Nature works in so many different ways.
Similar to honey bees, they have queen bee, male bee, and worker bees as well. Let’s jump into their lives now, shall we?
1. Queen Bumblebee
Like I said, the queen bumblebee is the only bee that survives through winter, all alone, while all the other bumblebees die! I wonder how the queen bees live through the isolation?
They are safe from all the diseases and predators, living up to a year!
However, once they die, new queens come during the late summer or early autumn. After that, they mate and store fat reserves in their body to keep them full during their hibernation. And during the early spring of the year, they will emerge to establishing their own colonies.
Crazy how the life of a queen bee works!
2. Male Bumblebee
There is not much information on male bumblebees, but they usually are the last ones to emerge from the colony, as the new queens, but they do not hibernate.
They probably live for only a few weeks.
3. Worker Bumblebee
The worker bumblebees usually live from two to six weeks, according to different studies.
It is said that the worker bumbles that are engaged in the nest duties usually live longer than the ones that forage, as they are less exposed to predators and the varying weathers.
OTHER FACTORS AFFECTING THEIR LIFE CYCLE
Other than all these, other factors are affecting their life cycle as well.
They may be eaten up by other animals or killed by another bee. Mostly worker bees die due to the burden of work. Other threats include pesticides and mites.
Although bees are small creatures, they still have a role in our lives, and there are things that we rely on them for. Now that we are talking and reading about bees, let’s start concentrating on helping bees before they die out completely.
THERE’S YOUR ANSWER
There you have it, the not so simple answer to your simple question. I hope this made it simpler for you to understand.
The more you learn about the bee life, the more fascinated you get by the new different things that you find – at least, I do. It is enjoyable to learn new things about bees, and the more you dig into it, the more you will learn.
The bee life never ceases to amaze us!