40 Facts about Queen Bees

Written by Thomas Townsend


Posted on May 15 2023

40 Facts about Queen Bees

by Korhan Kaftanoglu May 14, 2023

Welcome to our captivating compilation of 40 fascinating facts about queen bees! Delve into the intricate world of these remarkable matriarchs and uncover the secrets that make them the heart and soul of their buzzing colonies. From their majestic reign to their unparalleled reproductive prowess, we invite you on a journey through the buzzing hive, as we shed light on the remarkable life and role of the queen bee. Prepare to be enthralled by the astonishing adaptations, hierarchical dynamics, and awe-inspiring abilities of these regal insect rulers. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, a curious beekeeper, or simply seeking a newfound appreciation for the wonders of the insect world, this insightful list is a delightful exploration of the queen bee's extraordinary existence.

Before we get to the facts, please fill out our short survey about queen bees to win a new 7 Frame White NUC hive! (Lucky winner will be announced on June 1st, 2023)

Now here are 40 fascinating queen bee facts for you: 

  1. Queens and workers are females drones are males
  2. Queens develop in 16 days from egg is laid to emerging. Whereas worker bees develop in 21 days
  3. There is no genetic difference between the queens and workers. Every fertilized egg can become a queen depending on nutrition during larval stage
  4. Queens are fed royal jelly all their life including larval stages. Worker bees are fed honey and pollen
  5. Queen bees can live up to 3-4 years but worker bees live only 6 weeks
  6. Queen bees are more productive on the first year or two years. Colonies should be requeened every year or every 2 years
  7. Newly emerged virgin queen kills the old queen and other developing queens in the queen cells
  8. Queens spend all their life in the hive, never leave the hive after mating flight unless swarming Virgin queens take mating flights when they are 7-10 days old
  9. Queen can fly 8 to 10 miles during mating flight
  10. Queen mating flights take 20 to 30 minutes
  11. Queens never mate in the hive or in any enclosures
  12. Queens do not take mating flight in the mornings. They take the mating flight in the afternoon, in sunny and calm (not windy) days
  13. Queens release sex pheromones to attract the drones during mating flights
  14. Queens mate with 15-20 drones in the open air while flying
  15. If the queens can not mate with the enough drones they can take another mating flight on the next day
  16. Queens store the sperm in the sperm storage organ (spermatheca) during their life time
  17. Queens return to their hives after mating, with the mating sign (mating sign is the part of the male reproductive organs)
  18. Worker bees remove the mating sign and queens start laying eggs 3-4 days after mating
  19. If queen enters a wrong hive after mating flight she will be killed
  20. A young and productive queen can lay between 1500-2000 eggs per day during the spring and summer
  21. The weight of the eggs that queens lay in one day is equal to the weight of the queen
  22. Virgin queens are smaller and they weigh between 160-200 mg but laying queens develop the ovaries, get bigger and heavier
  23. Queen have 2 ovaries and around 160 ovarioles in each one. Eggs are developed in the ovarioles (egg tubes)
  24. Queens measure the diameter of the cells with front legs and lay fertilized eggs in the worker cells and unfertilized eggs in the drone cells. 
  25. Queens control the release of sperm from the spermatheca by opening or closing the spermathecal valve
  26. The performance of the colony, honey yield, defensive behavior, swarming tendency, overwintering ability depend on queens’ genotype, queens age,  and the genotype of the drones that queens mated with
  27. The age of the larvae is very important for the quality of the queen. Younger the larvae, better quality will be the queen. The live weight, number of ovarioles, diameter of the spermatheca and the number of sperm in the spermatheca will be more when 1 day old larvae are grafted instead of 2 or 3 days old larvae 
  28. The larger the queen cell, the better quality the queen bee will be
  29. When the queens get older, release of queen pheromone, egg laying rate decreases, drone production increases
  30. When queens get older colony rears few new queens and the old queens will be superseded
  31. Old queen and the supersedure queens can live together and both queens lay eggs for a while and then the old queen is killed
  32. If European queens mate with Africanized drones colony becomes Africanized and the queen is worthless
  33. If beekeeper introduces a new queen into a queen-right colony an new queen will be killed 
  34. Queen bees are females and have stingers. However queen stinger has fewer and snakler barbs than worker stingers
  35. Queens do not sting humans but they sting other queens in the hive
  36. Queens have notched mandibles so they can not bite. They are fed by worker bees
  37. Queens do not have pollen baskets (corbicula) so they can not collect pollen
  38. Queen bees do not produce / release alarm pheromones
  39. Queen bees don't have food glands, so they can't produce royal jelly
  40. Queens have smaller eyes than worker bees or the drones (Drones have 13000, worker bees 6300, queen bee 3600 ommatidia)

Bonus fact:

 You can use the 7 frame NUC hive as a timing box for grafting!

  • The 7 frame hive has 3 slots for the division board. One in the center to divide up the colony to 2 three frame box, also 2 more to isolate the first and the seventh frame
  • Have the division board in queen excluder setting by adjusting the dials to to the larger grid
  • Put the division board to one of the division board slots in your box to isolate the first frame or the seventh frame. 
  • Put the fully drawn dark comb with the queen in the isolated single frame part. Dark combs are better to see the eggs.
  • The queen will not be able to go to the other side of the hive but the worker bees will be able to go through the division board and care for the queen.
  • The queen will lay eggs on the isolated drawn comb
  • Come back 4 days later and graft from the isolated frame. Replace the fully drawn comb with another one for your next grafting

For professional queen breeders: 

  • Write the date you isolate the frame on the top bar of the frame with a marker
  • Next day or two days later, put the frame on the other side of the divison board, as the second, third or fourth frame after the division board
  • Replace the comb in the isolated area with another fully drawn empty comb, and put the new isolation date for that frame. Remember to put the queen on the empty drawn comb.
  • Graft from the first frame, 4 days after the 1st isolation date written on the frame
  • Make sure your colony is strong, and the isolated frame has plenty of nursing bees
  • Repeat the cycle