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LESSON 3: The Brood Rearing Process

During the spring season, an efficient queen can lay about 1,500 eggs in a twenty-four hour period. Those 1,500 eggs collectively weigh about the same as the queen herself. It’s easy to estimate how rapidly the eggs are forming inside the queen and understand why she has no other responsibilities.

What the Queen Does

  • First she puts her head inside a cell to determine that it is empty.
  • Second she lowers her abdomen into the cell and stays absolutely still for a few seconds.
  • Third she withdraws her abdomen leaving the egg sitting on the bottom of the cell.

Eggs are laid in a well-defined order

  • Eggs are deposited in the central portions of the cells on the frame.
  • Adjacent cells are filled with pollen and then honey is deposited in the outermost cells of the brood.

Stages of Egg Development

Development time is different for queens, drones & worker bees.

For this lesson, we will focus on the development of worker bees, as they make up most of the hive's population. The below example is the timeline for a worker bee.

  • Pic_BroodDrawing_01st Stage: After three days a small white larva hatches from the deposited egg.
  • 2nd Stage:  Larva stage- in six days after the larva hatches, it will complete its growth. During these six days its weight has increased more than five hundred percent.
  • 3rd Stage: Transformation stage- from larva to completed bee. Worker bees build a slender vaulted lid of wax over the cell, and beekeepers call this stage sealed brood. Inside the closed cell, the larva turns into a pupa. This stage takes 12 days, and at the end of the 12th day, the bee breaks the lid or capping and emerges a complete bee. During the larva stage, the worker bees feed the larva.
  • Temperature: Worker bees maintain a constant temperature of 95 degrees in the hive for proper brood development. This is achieved by an astonishing process: The workers crowd together by the thousands on top of the cells to insulate them with their collective warmth. In cooler weather, they crowd together and cover the brood cells with their bodies. On warmer days, they scatter and if the heat becomes excessive, they bring in water and cover the combs with a fine film, which they cause to evaporate by fanning it with their wings.
  • Total Time: It takes a total of 21 days for a worker bee to fully transform from an egg to a full bee.

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