There are three types of bees in the colony. The queen, the drones, and the worker bees. Of course, there’s only one queen and her job is to reproduce and keep the hive’s population steady in lean times or growing when conditions are good.
But it’s the rest of the colony that deserves the spotlight. The drones have an important place in the hive, since without them, there would be no baby bees to continue the colony. The drone’s main purpose is to mate with a queen, and they fly from different hives to accomplish this goal. However, their lifespans are short, about 90 days only, and when they are able to successfully mate with a queen, they die soon after.
In winter, since resources are scarce, drones may get kicked out of the hive so that the queen and worker bees can repopulate at a time that allows them to provide proper care to the larvae. But the drones also have another job, if the weather is severe. They can produce heat by shivering or cool down by beating their wings, so even before mating, they can still be useful to the hive.
Worker bees do a wide variety of jobs that essentially keeps the hive in top shape. Worker bees are female bees that cannot reproduce, and so they are caretakers, warriors, and nurses for the hive. One of the main jobs is collecting pollen, which is used for food to help the queen’s brood grow. They are also responsible for honey production, by sucking up nectar and returning to store it in the hive where it evaporates into honey.
For the care of the larvae, the worker bees will clean the cells, nurse the larvae with worker jelly or royal jelly to predetermined queen larvae and finally, at the end of the larvae cycle, they’ll repair and build cells by producing more wax.
Other jobs that the worker bees have is to seal mature honey so it doesn’t evaporate, groom and feed the queen, remove dead bees and larvae, fan the hive to stay cool, carry water and also guard the hive. The guard bees are especially important since they protect from attackers and they are an exclusively female team since the drones don’t have stingers.
The last job that worker bees will do is source nectar. This essential task is done by forager bees, who can travel as far as five miles to collect pollen or propolis. Every bee has a specialized job that they do to keep the hive in good working order. They all respect their position and carry it out dutifully. For bees, having these designated roles is what allows for hives to survive over the years, through weather, droughts, and intruders.