Here is a small account of what makes up a hive of bees and how they function as a super organism.


Each of our hives in the height of the summer has 1 queen, a few drones and approx 50,000 workers. Each of these castes as they are known cannot survive without the other. So the queen needs the workers and the workers need the queen. Drones play an important part as well, but are only needed for one thing, to mate with a virgin queen.


A queen will probably lay about 1,500 eggs a day and this will decrease as the temperature starts to drop towards autumn and winter. She needs to lay this amount of eggs as the workers only live for about 42 days, so the need to replace those that are lost is important for the survival of the colony.


The workers at certain times in their lives have specific jobs to do. For example, when they first emerge they are on cleaning duty. This means they clean the empty cells of the newly emerged young bees ready for the queen to lay an egg in them again. Other duties may be tending to the queen, feeding larvae, guard duty. She may spend as much as three weeks inside the hive before leaving for foraging work, to collect nectar and pollen.


Drones on the other hand are lazy and are usually found begging the workers for food. They fly to drone congregation areas where they wait to mate with the virgin queens. When the colder weather starts to arrive, the drones are kicked out by the workers as they are a drain on stores that are needed for the colony to survive the winter.