Queen bees are the most important individual bee in any colony, as they are the only ones who can reproduce. Without a queen, the entire hive is eventually doomed. Queen bees have many characteristics that set them apart from other bees in the colony and they can often be identified visually.
Queen bees will differ in appearance from other bees in the hive. Her thorax will be a little smaller than the average drone bee but it will look slightly larger because the size of the rest of her body throws off perception. The queen will have a much longer abdomen than any of the others, and her wings will appear smaller because of it. In most cases the queen will be easy to identify based on just how much longer than the other bees she is.
Fertility & Breeding
The queen is the only bee in an entire hive that can produce eggs, making her critical for a colony's ability to survive. Sometimes for a short time there will be two queens. An older queen and the younger queen, made to take her place, have been known to coexist in the same hive for short periods of time. A queen bee can lay up to 1,000 eggs in a day and is attended to by drones who care for the eggs, as well as the queen. An egg that is fully fertilized can become a new queen, while the eggs that are not fully fertilized become new drones.
Queen bees can sometimes lead swarms to a new colony, leaving the old one behind with a new queen and drones yet to hatch. This will happen during the spring or summer when there is a lot of nectar and a queen will take a short flight to survey the area before scout bees are sent out to find a suitable place for a new colony.
About the Author
Monty Dayton is a professional freelance writer who has worked for the ACLU, Touchstone Publishing LLC, the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and many other employers. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Alaska and loves writing about travel, the outdoors and health topics.