An essential element for every hive, the queen has a very specific task: to lay eggs.
But who will be the chosen one for her fertilization? How are the drones that will have the honor of mating with the queen bee chosen? Let's find out how the nuptial flight takes place and all the behaviors of these wonderful animals.
The choice of drones
The role of the queen bee within the hive is of the utmost importance. The queen is the only one capable of laying eggs and providing for the survival of the bee family. For this reason, the worker bees and everything else in the swarm gives them a top priority. The queen bee is cared for, fed and pampered by her workers who will always ensure that it grows strong and healthy.
Precisely for this reason, not all drones have the honor of mating with the queen. The selection of the drones that will enjoy this task is based on a very specific element: strength.
To decide which is the strongest, there will not be a fight between competitors but a test of endurance.
How the nuptial flight happens
To begin the nuptial flight, a virgin queen bee comes out of her hive. It will be the first and only time that the queen will leave the hive and she will be able to see a little bit of the world. When the queen bee begins to take flight, a dozen drones immediately begin to chase it. In fact, just before starting, the queen is ready to mate, she emits a very evident olfactory call. This smell is able to attract and recall all the drones of the colonies that are found within a kilometer.
The nuptial flight of the queen bees reaches a height of about 700 meters and only the drones that are able to fly up to that height will have the honor of being able to carry out their task.
The weaker drones, unable to reach such a height, will not be able to fertilize the queen and when they return to the hive they will stop being fed by the worker bees.
For the other drones, fate is not as pleasant, after the copulation has taken place, in fact, the reproductive organ of the males remains implanted in the queen bee and the drone falls to the ground towards its end. Any drone that mates with a queen is doomed to death but her death will allow the queen to store her seed inside her and keep it.
The queen bee storage pouch called the spermatheca can hold the seed needed to fertilize the eggs for about three years.
Therefore, every time the queen bee has to lay fertile eggs, she will be able to use the stored seed for the production of the latter. The fertile eggs will give rise to females, the unfertilized eggs will give rise to males and therefore to drones.
Why queen bees can lay eggs
Unlike worker bees, queen bees can use their sting to lay eggs.
The sting of the queens is in fact different from that of other bees as it can be used both to give life and to kill. The sting is the tool that queen bees use to lay eggs, but it is used as a lethal weapon against their competitors during the challenge to fill the role of queen.
The worker bees, on the other hand, have a serrated sting that is not smooth like that of the queens, so it is used only as a defense mechanism. When a worker bee uses its sting, the latter gets stuck in the victim's body. With the detachment of the sting, the worker bees lose their life because together with it they also suffer the detachment of some parts of internal organs.
How many eggs can queen bees lay
Queen bees can produce an innumerable amount of eggs which varies depending on many factors.
Usually the eggs are laid for at least five months over a year, usually from April to August.
In periods when the hive is growing more intensely, the queen bee is able to lay about 2000 eggs every day! From these will then develop worker bees, drones and possibly new queen bees that will repeat the same life cycle all over again.
In the event that a queen bee has not completed her role very well for procreation during the nuptial flight, she is immediately killed by the worker bees.
Queen bees for sale
If you need queen bees for your farm, choose Apicoltura Laterza! We deal with the sale of swarms, families, parcels and bee cores.
You can buy directly online on the website www.apicolturalaterza.it
We ship throughout Italy and throughout Europe with professional and safe methods. Our queen bees are available in the Buckfast and Ligustica breed and enjoy excellent health proven by a national health certificate. If you want to know more about our services, visit the What We Offer section. Or you can contact us for free for any information or doubt by accessing our Contacts section.