The Role of Female and Male Bees

Beekeeping is the protection of honey bee settlements by humans. Bee colonies are composed of three classes of bees: the Queen bee, female worker bees, and male drones.

Almost of the bees in a beehive are female worker bees. The lifespan of a worker bee is as short as six weeks during the height of summer because the hive’s activity is frantic and labour goes on continuously, while during late autumn when there is no brood being raised and no available nectar for harvesting, a young bee might live for 16 weeks. The age of the worker bee is the determinant of the kind of tasks she will be performing. Bees aged 1-3 days are in charge of cleaning rooms and incubation, 3-6 days will feed older larvae, 6-10 days are feeders of younger larvae, 8-16 day old bees receive pollen and honey from field bees, 12-18 days are wax makers and cell builders, and 14 days onwards serve as entrance guards, and pollen and nectar foragers.

Drones or male bees perform no work nor search for nectar or pollen because their role is to mate with the queen and fertilise her eggs on their sexual union flights. A bee settlement will usually begin to raise male bees a few weeks before constructing queen rooms or during swarming preparation. When the nurturing for one season has ended, the bees drive the male bees out of the hive to perish, tearing and biting at their wings and legs, because the drones turn to useless members of the colony.