Life Cycle of a Honey Bee

NEW! Read about the life cycle of the honey bee below, or scroll down to access our printable resources, which include fact sheets, posters, colouring pages and worksheet activities.

  • Honey bees are fascinating insects! They live in "colonies", with several thousand co-operating together to build their nest (hive), collect food and rear young. Each member of the colony has a particular task to perform, depending on its role and age:
  • the queen bee, which is the only bee able to produce eggs. There is only one queen bee in a colony, and the queen bee is the largest bee
  • the male drone bees, which mate with the queen bee and then die. They don't sting. A typical colony or hive has 700-1000 drones
  • the female worker bees, which collect food, make beeswax and build honeycombs and feed the young. These are small, and have stingers. There might be up to 60,000 worker bees in a colony or hive!

3 types of honey bees

Life Cycle of a Honey Bee

There are 4 stages in the honey bee’s life cycle:

Egg - Larva - Pupa - Adult

The queen bee mates with drone bees (which then die). She lays a single egg into each cell of the honeycomb. A queen might lay up to 3,000 eggs per day!

honey_bee_egg

Egg
The egg is long, thin and white, and about the size of a grain of rice. The eggs are laid into different cells, depending on whether they will become worker bees, drone bees or queen bees.

A single cell in each cell of the honeycomb

Larva
After a few days, the egg hatches into a larva which looks like a white grub. Young worker bees feed the larva, first with a special liquid called Royal Jelly, and then “bee bread” (a mixture of pollen and honey). Potential queen bees get special treatment and are fed only Royal Jelly!

The eggs hatch into larvae

Pupa
After a few days, the larva stops eating and spins itself a cocoon. This is called the pupa stage. The pupa's cell is capped by the worker bees with a lid of beeswax. The pupa is no longer fed but it continues to grow, developing legs, eyes and wings inside the cocoon.

pupa stage 1  pupa stage 2

Adult
About 21 days after the egg is laid, the pupa becomes an adult bee. It chews the lid off its cell and climbs out. A busy adult worker bee can live for up to 6 weeks in the summer. Honey bees can potentially survive through a winter as long as they have enough food and can keep warm, although all the drones and many of the worker bees will die. The remaining bees will cluster together, keeping the queen safe until the days warm up again.

The Queen Bee

A new queen bee will take over from the old queen when she dies, or look for a new hive of her own. A queen bee can live for up to 4 years! When you see a swarm of bees, it is usually a queen and her workers looking for a new nest, or hive.

A beehive

Our Life Cycle of a Honey Bee Resources

Honey Bee Fact File

Honey Bee Fact File

This printable is packed full of information about the honey bee, its life cycle, how honey is made and even about honeycomb. Use it together with our honey bee life cycle resources, or on its own.

Honey bee word cards

Honey Bee Word Cards

This set of word cards covers all the bee-specific words we have used in our honey bee life cycle and main bee information pages - 39 in total. We've left one card blank for the word we've forgotten - there's always one!

Life cycle of a honey bee display set

Life Cycle of a Honey Bee Display Set

Choose from colour or black and white and you'll find 9 pages in this printable, with large versions of all the images we have used in our Life Cycle of a Honey Bee collection.

Life Cycle of a Honey Bee Labelling Worksheet

Life Cycle of a Honey Bee Labelling Worksheet

We've left blanks for the children to fill in with each of the 4 stages of the honey bee's life cycle. Choose from a blank version of the worksheet, or one which prompts the 4 stages.

Life cycle of a honey bee word search

Life Cycle of a Honey Bee Word Search

Dig into the grid to find the words - all associated with the life cycle of the honey bee. We've produced this puzzle in both upper case and lower case versions, so choose the one you want below. Both come with an answer sheet as well.

More Bee Resources

Bee Worksheets
Bee Worksheets

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