How many bees are in a hive – Honey bees
So, just how many bees are in a hive? The answer… a lot! A hive is a crowded and busy place to be. Let’s talk numbers. At any one time there could be anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 bees! There’s a good chance some hives contain even more than that but the exact number of bees in a colony (that’s the name for a community of bees) can be hard to pinpoint as there are various factors at play, such as seasonal variations, location and available food source.
Honey bees in a hive can be separated into three distinct types of bee: worker bees, drones and the queen. Each have their roles to play in ensuring the survival of the hive.
The majority of bees in a hive are worker bees. You might think you work hard but try being a worker bee and literally working yourself to death!
It was the work of the worker honey bees in a hive that lead to the coining of the term “busy as a bee”. Up to 99% of a hive is made up of worker bees!
Worker bees are all females and are the smallest bees in a hive but they have the largest numbers. They are responsible for everything except reproduction in a hive.
These busy bees cycle through a number of specialized jobs including domestic tasks such as cleaning the hive and waiting on the queen. Once their wax glands have matured, worker bees can build honeycombs and help store food and honey for later use. They utilize their wings to fan honey in cells, encouraging evaporation.
As worker bees get older, they leave the hive on a mission to gather pollen, nectar and water for their hive. Worker bees also act as the guards of the hive and produce alarm pheromones to warn the hive of dangers. In a healthy hive, the question, how many bees are in a hive, is simple to answer…there’s tens of thousands of worker bees.
Nope, not the flying, buzzing devices of the sky used to spy on neighbors and collect intel. The drones we are referring to are male bees, although there are some similarities.
Drones only make up a very small percentage of the bees in a hive. In a hive of 50,000 bees, around 7,000 will be drones, That’s about 15% of all the bees in the colony. All drones are male bees and procreation is their only purpose. Their sole role of mating with a queen is vital to the survival of the hive.
Picture this: drone bees sitting in a row of bar stools sipping on royal jelly. Tireless worker bees provide them with an endless supply of royal jelly. After a few days at the bar, they change to a diet of honey. Then they leave the hive as a group on patrol flights in search of a queen to procreate with. Then they die!!
Sounds like a sad existence but, like all the other bees in a hive, the drones have an essential job in the future survival of the hive.
Our main focus here is how many bees are in a hive and when talking about queen bees, there is an easy answer. There is only one queen bee in a healthy hive and her role is so very important. Although she is not the only female in the hive, the queen bee is the soul of the hive and the only female bee in the hive with the role of procreation to perpetuate the bee hive family.
She is much larger than the worker or drone bees. She has a small head and very well-developed abdomen and small wings. Queen bees release pheromones that signal the worker bees. If the queen of a colony dies, worker bees feed a larva with royal jelly and a new queen bee is born.
The only time a queen will ever leave a hive is when she is still a virgin. She takes flight and mates with many drones in flight and then returns to the hive where she lives until she dies or is killed by the other bees when a new queen is born.