The Queen Bee is the most important bee in the hive, she is essential to the life of the hive. For she is the one who gives birth to all other bees in the hive.
The Queen Bee can live for 2-5 years (as apposed to a worker bee who will only live 6 weeks to 4 months depending on the time of year they are born). She can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day which is around one egg every 43 seconds. She can potentially lay up to a million eggs in her lifetime.
Laying eggs is not the only job the Queen bee does, she also produces and releases pheromones. The pheromones are used as chemical messengers that aid in the colony communication.
When a Queen Bee get older her egg laying rate starts to reduce and so does the amount of pheromones she produces. It is at this stage of her life, her children can turn on her and kill her. They will then start the process of making a new Queen Bee.
So How Are Queen Bees Made?
When a Queen Bee dies, the worker bees begin to feed royal jelly (a highly rich protein substance) exclusively to several larva. All bee larva receive royal jelly for the first few days of its life, but is then transferred to a pollen/water/honey mix for the rest of its life. Bees which are made into a Queen Bee will receive the royal jelly the whole time while they develop from larva to Queen Bee, and will continue to eat royal jelly for the rest of their life.
Several bees have the chance to become the Queen Bee but only one bee will take the role. The first new Queen Bee to hatch seeks out and kills the other Queen Bees before they finish developing. If two Queen Bees hatch at the same time, then they will battle until there is only one Queen Bee.
The new Queen Bee will leave the hive only one time in their life and that is to mate. She will mate with 15-30 male bees form other hives (otherwise she would mate with her brother) to gain a variety of genetic material. She will store this semen, and use it over the rest of her life.
She then begins the process of laying eggs and sending messages to the hive. She has servants to clean and feed her royal jelly, and this is how she will continue for the rest of her life.
How Does A Queen Bee Look?
Queen bees can vary in size, but she will usually be only slightly larger than a worker bee. Her shape makes her more easy to distinguish. Her abdomen and legs are long and her wing are short compared to her body.