Since there are many different species of bees, wasps and hornets, all with different habits, it’s impossible to explain them all in a single article. However, the information below will give you a general idea of how the bees and wasps populate their nests.
The Lifecycle of Bees
The lifecycle of bees consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The process takes approximately 21 days.
The queen bee lays all eggs in the colony. Each egg takes four days to hatch into a larva. The larva is then fed a mixture of pollen and nectar for six days. Worker bees then seal the cell that the larva is living in, so it can transform into a pupa. The pupa is the stage of transition between larva and adult. When the bee emerges, it is an adult, or the winged, hairy insect that we recognize as a bee.
How long the bee lives depends on what type of bee it is. A queen bee will typically live from 2 to 5 years. Male or drone bees live 40 to 50 days. Female or worker bees make up the majority of the hive and live 30 to 120 days.
Most species of bees can survive the winter, though different species of bees have different survival methods. Honeybees cease flying and form winter clusters, grouping closely together and shivering to keep warm. Using this method, they keep the centre of their nest, where the queen bee resides, around 80 degrees. Other species of bees burrow beneath the ground or hibernate. In other cases, queen bees lay eggs prior to dying. When spring comes, the eggs hatch and the lifecycle begins again.
The Lifecycle of Wasps and Hornets
Like bees, at the centre of the wasp lifecycle is a queen wasp. However, unlike bees, wasp colonies rarely survive the cold season. During the winter, wasp colonies die off and their nests are vacant. Only the queen survives and hibernates. In the spring the queen emerges and constructs a nest around her. Within a few days, she produces a batch of eggs.
Four to six weeks later, the first worker wasps emerge. Like worker bees, worker wasps are female. By summer, the nest is filled with worker wasps to take over expanding the nest and foraging for food. The queen spends all her time laying eggs.
By the end of summer, a successful wasp nest can house between 20,000 to 30,000 wasps. As autumn approaches, a few male wasps are born and produce new queens by mating with queens in other nests. The newly born queens hibernate and attempt to survive the winter. Once the weather warms, the cycle repeats.