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The Function of the Queen Bee

Every hive must have a queen bee and she is always the most important member of the hive. Queen bees are adult, mated female bees that live in a eusocial bee colony or hive. The term “queen bee” is generally applied to any dominant reproductive female in a colony as she is typically the mother of most, if not all, of the bees in the hive. It is her job, and hers alone, to produce the progeny for all of the colony.

Queen bees have one other very important and unique function, which is that they produce special pheromones that act as chemical communicators to the rest of the hive. If the queen bee goes missing, the colony quickly knows due to the lack of her pheromones. Most importantly, however, this pheromone acts as an inhibitor that prevents any workers from starting queen cells, the building blocks by which larvae are developed into queen bees. In this way, queen bees can control for any rival bees as well as control the sex of each egg that she lays. 

What Does The Queen Bee Look Like?

Queen bees resemble other female members of her colony. She has the same number of body parts as other bees in her colony and she initially goes through the same developmental stages as the other female bees in her colony, though there are some special things that happen to queens that do not happen to any other bees. 

One major difference that queen bees have is that they have large abdomens. This abdomen holds her ovaries which will produce a lifetime’s worth of eggs. Her abdomen also contains a spermatheca that holds stored semen from the mating process. It is this main difference that allows the queen bee to lay all the fertilized eggs for the colony. Without a queen bee, a colony cannot reproduce and will eventually die off. 

How Many Queen Bees Are There In A Beehive?

Most bees, and hence most beehives, are eusocial, meaning that they are one large community with a complex caste-like hierarchy. In these eusocial colonies there is only one queen. Some species of bee, however, are solitary, meaning there is no queen, just one solitary bee living on its own, typically next to other solitary bees. Some species of bee have multiple queens in their nests, or even dwarf queens, waiting to replace a dominant queen in case of unexpected death. 

Do Queen Bees Sting?

Queen bees, like other female bees, are equipped with a stinger. Unlike other female bees, however, queen bees’ stingers are not barbed, rather they are smooth. Queen bees typically only use their stingers to kill rival virgin queen bees and rarely sting humans, but will if they feel threatened.

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The creator of this review received compensation by RMICPA, LLC on behalf of Terminix®. This review is the opinion of its creator and its claims are not endorsed or evaluated by RMICPA, LLC.

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