Where does the queen bee come from?


Do bees have the same probability of being male or female? What decides if a bee larvae will become a queen? Do they grow up and start a new hive?

In: Biology

Any female can become the queen, but only the one that is fed the royal jelly actually becomes the queen.

They fly off to start a new colony taking quite a large protion of the hives bees with them to the frustration of the bee-keeper who has to go and catch the new queen if he wants to keep them.
The queen is made into a queen by being fed a special kind of honey that the drones make if they are feeling rebelious and the old queen will try to kill the usurper if she can.


Lets start with the fun part: sex

A young queen bee has sex once in her life. She takes a maiden flight, finds some male bees up in the sky and has an orgy up there. She will store the sperm of multiple male partners in her for the rest of her life.

When a queen bee lays an egg she can choose wether she fertilizes that egg. Unfertilized eggs always become males. They are DNA clones of the queen. They are pretty useless, they only eat and if they are lucky get to have sex once.

Fertilized eggs become female. The hive “choose” if they need a new queen. If they feed a female queen jelly during the larval state you get a queen. If not you get a worker bee.

Usually you will get a few queens every year, the new ones will fight and kill eachother. The survival will take a few hundred or thousand of her mothers bees with her and find a new place for a hive.

The mother continues until her sperm runs out and then stops being able to make new females. I’m not sure if in nature the hive would replace the old queen, an experienced beekeeper would.

Commercial beekeeper and queen breeder here: the a Queen and a Worker(female) bee are genetically the same. The difference is in how much royal jelly is fed, and the size of the cell they are are raised in. You can trick bees I to raising a shit load of queens by scooping out eggs and placing them in plastic “Queen Cups”, which the bees automatically raise into queens based on the size of the cell. It’s how the commercial beekeeping industry operates. You can take 10 pounds of bulk bees and get them to raise up to 200 cells in 10 days.