Can A Queen Bee Survive On Her Own?

can a queen bee survive alone

A functioning beehive has worker bees, drones, and a queen. Take one type out, and you are sitting with a hive that’s on the brink of collapse. Just like a game of Jenga – take out the wrong piece, and the whole structure fails. I started to wonder if a queen bee can survive on her own, seeing that she is the reason that a colony grows?

A queen bee can not survive on her own. She needs drones to mate with and worker bees to feed her royal jelly when still in the larvae stage, or else she won’t turn into a queen in the first place. A team of worker bees is needed to feed and groom her as she focuses on laying thousands of eggs per day.

There are three types of bees that live in a beehive. The queen, the drones, and the worker bees. Together they build a functioning hive where each one has a very significant role to play. The three-piece puzzle works as a unit, take either piece away, and you have a recipe for disaster. On their own none the three-piece unit will survive for long.

Can A Queen Bee Survive All By Herself?

A bee queen is essential for honey production. The queen makes the bees that produce the honey. She’s the essential piece of the puzzle that makes a hive complete. But she can’t survive on her own. She needs other bees in her life, or she won’t survive.

How long can a queen bee live without attendants

As their name suggests, a worker bee does most of the work in a beehive. Yes, the drones are needed for their semen, and the queen needs to turn the semen into thousands of eggs, but the hive relies heavily on the worker bee for its continuous survival.

The queen bee can’t feed herself or groom herself; she even needs help when relieving herself. The help comes from a flock of worker bee attendants (daughters) called the queen’s court.

These special worker bees do the following for their queen:

  • Feed the queen (royal jelly)
  • Groom the Queen (Dispose of her waste)

What Does The Queen Bee Eat?

A queen bee spends most of her egg-laying life inside the brood chamber, laying egg after egg into cells prepared by the worker bees. The brood chamber is normally found at the bottom of the hive; it’s where you will find the eggs develop into larvae into pupae.

The brood chamber is the queen’s office, and she hardly ever takes a lunch break, resulting in the worker bees having to discard any waste that she produces during her life. The queen’s sole focus is on laying as many eggs as possible; her survival and that of the hive depend on this action.

Except for the queen bee, all bees survive on a diet that contains flower pollen (source of protein) and nectar (source of energy). The queen bee’s diet is different. She is fed with mostly royal jelly, with a predigested mixture of pollen and nectar fed to her here and there. The worker bees feed her using a mouth-to-mouth feeding method.

How long can a queen bee live without food

A queen bee will survive only 1 or 2 days without food. Virgin bee queens have been observed feeding themselves by dipping their tongues into nectar, but as soon as the egg-laying cycle starts, they will need workers to feed them royal jelly as they can’t sustain both egg-laying (which requires constant energy) and self-feeding.

Royal jelly is a mixture of the following ingredients:

  • Water
  • Proteins
  • Sugars
  • Lipids
  • Minerals
  • Collagen
  • Antioxidants
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C

Royal jelly is fed to queen bee larvae and throughout a queen’s life. The jelly is her food of choice, and this substance is secreted from the heads of worker bees. A hungry queen can stick her head into a nectar pot and feed herself but requires her support team to feed her in the long term.

Yes, a queen can sustain herself for a few days but will die after a long period without her helpers. The worker bees feed her an appropriate diet that either stimulates egg-laying or blocks her from it until the time is right. 

A mated queen will not do well independently without the feeding assistance received from her loving daughters. A virgin queen may survive a couple of days longer when having to feed herself, but neither will survive long-term or anywhere close to the life expectance of two to five years.

A Queen Bee Can’t Become A Worker Bee

A queen bee might be the biological mother of the hive’s residents, but she is not what you will call a fully present and caring parent. 

Without the worker bees, there’s no hive. Without the worker bees, there’s no honey. Without the worker bees, there are no new worker bees or drones. Without worker bees, there is no queen.

A worker bee is responsible for many tasks in the hive, which a queen bee can’t perform, like the following:

  • Build wax cells for egg-laying for both worker and drone bees
  • Build wax cells for storing honey, nectar, and pollen (food source of the colony)
  • Feeding the new larvae to ensure that hive numbers are supplemented
  • Creating new queens
  • Feeding the drones
  • Collecting pollen and nectar
  • Add an enzyme to honey to ripen and seal them with a wax cap
  • Making honey
  • Perform a dance that indicates outside food sources
  • Dance to indicate the need to swarm
  • Produce royal jelly
  • Defending the hive
  • Keeping the hive hygienically clean by removing waste and dead larvae
  • Clean all cells before reusing them for new eggs and storing honey to prevent disease
  • Decide when it’s time to replace the queen

Take the worker bee out of the equation, and the whole hive will perish, as they are the reason that there is a functioning hive in the first place. 

Can A Colony Survive Without A Queen?

A mated queen bee plays an integral part in the growth of the colony numbers, and she is usually the mother to most (if not all) of the bees in the hive. Without a queen bee the hive will not survive as she is the only bee with fully developed ovaries.

A healthy queen bee is a machine when it comes to laying eggs, very capable of laying over 1,500 eggs per day. That’s equal to one egg every thirty seconds, more than her weight in eggs. The constant laying of eggs ensures that the colony numbers grow, even when older bees die off.

The second function of the queen bee is to “control” the bees working in the hive. By releasing pheromones (chemical scents), she helps to regulate the “mood” in the colony and inspires all the bees to perform their duties happily.

Conclusion

The bees that form part of a hive ensure that the colony lives on indefinitely. Take one type of bee out of the equation, and the life expectancy drops to dangerously low levels. A queen bee needs a team of worker bees to help her live a long and healthy life. 

A virgin queen bee should be able to survive for a couple of days longer than a mated queen, but in the end, we are talking about days here, not years. A queen bee is not made to survive on her own.

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