Are Bees Born Fully Grown?

Bees undergo complete holometabolism. Their life cycle is very similar to any other typical insect- flies, moths, beetles, wasps and ants alike. A bee transforms from an egg to a fully-grown adult via pupa.

Are bees born fully grown? Simply put, no they are not. In fact, bees go through full metamorphosis just like any other insect. A bee transforms from an egg to larva to pupa to fully-grown adult.

How do bees become fully grown?

It begins its life as a grain-sized egg, if not smaller. The queen bee lays a lot of eggs during early spring or late winter – 1000 to 2000 eggs. The worker bees are tasked with feeding these eggs until they hatch into lava, and then into pupa. Let’s delve into each stage of this bewildering transformation.

1. Egg

A bee hive usually contains a high number of cells. These cells are built by the servant bees which are one tireless lot. The queen is always adamant to sustain the colony and the hustle starts with laying eggs. She lays fertilized eggs into a majority of the cells, which eventually turn into worker bees upon successful metamorphosis. However, some cells may pan out to be a little larger than the worker cells. For consistency, she lays unfertilized eggs into them, which would later turn out as drones. This stage takes a maximum of three days.

2. Larva

After three days, the egg takes a mature transformation and becomes worm-like. Here is where real work happens. The worker bees are at full-throttle to feed the larvae. First off, the larva is fed loyal jelly for the first countable days. The bees then change the diet to a combination of honey and pollen grains according to the needs of the individual larva and progress of growth. Amazingly, within just five days of consistent feeding, the larva grows to size. Upon reaching this point, the cells harboring the larvae are capped in wax and the countdown to a full grown bee starts.

3. Pupa

The wait for the organism under the capping to grow further takes an approximate three days. Within this timeline, eyes, wings, legs coupled with the black hair that covers the anthrax and abdomen start to effectively form. However, the time spent by the bee under the capping may vary depending on the species and its status in the colony. It is usually longer for the drone and shorter for the queen. This blossoming period rarely exceeds 14 days. When ready to pop out of the capping, the bee chews off the cell and emerges.

When does the birth of a bee occur?

As aforementioned, the queen bee lays eggs which then hatch into bees. Logically, it is fair to say that birth occurs during hatching and not during the emergence of the pupa from the capping. Larva will only develop into a full-grown bee and nothing else! A caterpillar is an infant butterfly and so it could be equated that a larva is an infant bee.

Who’s responsible for bee reproduction?

The worker bees aren’t part of maintaining the colony through reproduction- only the queen and the drone are. The latter have a full reproduction system capable of forming many eggs whereas the former have an atrophic reproductive system. The queen bee and the drones mate exactly 7 days after her incubation.

How does reproduction of bees occur?

The drones and the queen bee usually mate outside the beehive. The conditions for flawless mating ought to be perfect- hot temperatures (more than 20 degree Celsius), wind speed less than 28km/h and must be during the afternoon.

The drone mates by ejaculation which occurs when his abdominal muscles contract. Parts of his genital organs remain in the queen after ejaculation which ultimately causes the former to die. The proceeding drone removes the remnant genitals from the queen and performs his duty. The queen naturally stores the entire sperm count (spermatozoon) in her gland which produces nutrients for their survival. All in all, while all eggs pass through the queen’s oviduct during hatching, she gets to choose which to or not to fertilize.

How’s a bee gender determined?

Basically, the queen lays both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. The fertilized eggs grow on to become female bees (worker bees) from which a queen must be chosen. The queen is distinguished from the workers depending on the type and quality of nutrition fed during the larva stage.

Is there a possibility of some honey bees having multiple parents? 

As pointed out earlier, unfertilized eggs develop into drones while fertilized eggs become the female worker bees after hatching. However, it is crucial to note that the queen mates with many drones (at least 10 of them) where many sperms may end up in a single egg.

Rarely, some bees may end up with both male and female tissues derived from the fertilized egg and the extra sperm respectively. This type of unique organism is known as gynandromorphs. Scientists are still searching for more concrete evidence for this.

How long does a fully grown bee live?

The role of bee in the colony distinctively defines how long it will live. In standard conditions and without being perturbed, a queen bee could live to up-to 4 years. Comparatively, worker bees raised during summer may have a life span of up-to 7 weeks owing to their busy lives of feeding the larvae. As opposed to worker bees, drones may have a longer life span of up-to 4 months as long as they don’t mate with the queen bee. Remember, any drone dies immediately after mating so selflessly jeopardizes their own life span.


It has been shown that bees do hatch from eggs and have an optimum life cycle like any other insect. They go through an strict routine until they become fully grown adults. Whereas the period between egg laying and pupa maybe short as opposed to other insects, it is vital to note that the relentlessness and hard work of the worker bees is what secures the process.

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