How to recognize your queen bee
The Bee Queen is the only Bee that is capable of laying eggs. That is why she is also the mother of her entire colony and as such she deserves a lot of attention. Worker bees build most of the beehive. Depending on the time of year, up to 60,000 worker bees live in one bee family. A couple of drones, several hundred up to thousands of drones (male bees) live in one bee colony.
Queen bees can get to a length of up to 20 mm with a weight of circa 0.23 g and she can be easily distinguished between the other bees, with her elongated abdomen. A queen can live up to 5 years and will become the oldest animal in the colony. She is the only colony inhabitant that is capable of reproduction. This is one of two tasks for the queen.
The second task is the production and distribution of a fragrance. This pheromone sends signals to the bees that their survival is secured. This helps the other bees to instinctively continue to pursue their individual tasks. The bee queen is always followed by worker bees. This court state of bees maintains and feeds their queen and helps distribute the queen’s scent.
The queen bee reaches the height of her energy in the months of May and June. During this time, a prolific queen can lay up to 3000 eggs a day! The weight of laid eggs is greater than the queens own body weight by a large margin. A queen’s laying performance depends on genetic makeup of the bee queen, the season, environmental factors, climate, and food supply.
Mating happens once in a queen’s lifetime during the wedding flight. The seed supply is enough for the remainder of her life. Depending on the size of the cell, the queen can decide whether an egg will be fertilized or not. If a queen is not fertile or if her seed supply is depleted, she is still capable of laying eggs. The only problem is that the entire brood will consist of drones, which will indicate the downfall of the entire bee colony.
How do you find the queen bee in your population?
1. Look for the bee that is taller than any other bee in the colony- a queen bee is taller and wider than any other bee in the colony.
2. Find a bee with a protruding abdomen. The abdomen of a queen bee is noticeably sharper and bigger than the worker bees and drones counterparts.
3. Use a microscope to find a bee without a barbed sting. The sting of the worker bees are barbed, therefore when they sting you, their thorn will break away from their abdomen which will kill them. Without this barbed sting, the queen bee can sting as often as she likes-therefore: Don’t upset her if you don't have to!
4. Find a bee with spread legs. Because of her size, the queen bee must spread her legs to get through the hive quicker.
5. Watch how other bees behave towards her. As long as the queen is healthy and productive, the other bees are very respectful towards her and get out of her path when she walks, and give her their entire attention when she stops.