A honeybee life cycle

The queen is the most important bee in the hive because only she can lay fertilised eggs that become female workers or, potentially, a new queen. She also lays unfertilised eggs that become male drones.

The queen lays eggs at the bottom of the hexagonal cells of honeycomb – they look like tiny white grains of rice. The eggs hatch after just three days.

A larvae is the next stage in a bee’s development. They look like crescent-moon shaped, pearly white grubs. Larvae grow for around five days before their cell is sealed with a waxy capping by the workers. Inside the sealed cell, the larva will pupate and emerge a fully grown bee. This stage takes around 16 days for a queen, 20 days for a worker and 24 days for a drone.