Honey bees working in the hive. Photo courtesy of Chris Hansen of Hansen Honey

How does this organism reproduce?
The cycle starts when the queen lays eggs into individual comb cells. What the eggs become highly depends on if the eggs were fertilized or not and what they are fed. If the egg is not fertilized it will automatically develop into a male drone. If the egg is fertilized it may develop into a worker or a queen. The Drones also require a lot more food to develop than the average female worker. There are a number of additional steps to produce a queen. These include “feeding the queen Royal Jelly, a greater quantity of food (see the nutrition page) and a hormone known as Juvenile Hormone (JH), which is known to regulate growth, development, and metamorphosis…” (Winston, 1987) The drones typically develop a few days before the queen and go on an orientation flight, to scout out a congregation area where they can mate with the queen. This depends highly on the weather. If the conditions are unfavorable, the drone will postpone the flight. Later when the queen has emerged, she will also travel to the congregation area, where drones from multiple hives will mate with her until her Spermatheca (sperm sac) is filled. This will ensure that the eggs have proper genetic diversity and strengthen the hive. Unfortunately, the drone’s Endophallus (reproductive organ) stays in the queen and thus is ripped from his body, causing him to die. The queen then can repeat the process.