The Queen Mother – Story of a Bee

How is a queen made? How dominant are the males in the females’ life (spoiler, they’re not), does a simple worker have a chance to become a queen? What is “nuptial flight”?
And is a bee’s life really as sweet as honey or is it a story with a sting…

The Queen Mother- marked in pink dot

The Queen Mother

The bee hierarchy is very clear: the queen has a significant role given by nature and the other female (and male) bees support her so she can fulfil her destiny. The queen bee is the only one in the hive who can produce offspring. And most of the family life in the hive is dedicated to this purpose.

Nuptial flight
The queen will set out on one “nuptial flight” during her lifetime. During this flight the queen bee will mate with as many males as possible, and will in fact collect their sperm in a special cell in her body. The queen will return exhausted but satisfied from this flight, and will continue the work of reproducing by herself – the sperm she collected will meet her female cells via a special tube, and through this process the queen will produce offspring.


The Queen mother is the only one in the hive who can produce offspring. And most of the family life in the hive is dedicated to this purpose.


Wanted: nurses
After laying the eggs the queen bee ends her parental role, and the baton is passed to the nurses – the worker bees: they will care for the larvae, build the nest, conduct maintenance work on the hive and provide food for themselves and for the larvae. Because the worker bees have no larvae of their own, all the worker bees look after the queen’s larvae with no discrimination or favouritism.

Dance of the workers
The experienced bees set out first on the journey to find food and nectar. They are the “advance guard”, which will locate and find the best flowers before returning to the hive; there, through a wonderful dance using their wings, body and antennae, they will convey information to the younger bees concerning the food they have found. This dance will allow the young bees to set out to obtain food much more efficiently.

The queen cell is a royal cell built by the worker bees for the future queen.

All the larvae in the hive receive “bee bread”, food comprising a mixture of nectar and pollen. However, one special cell in the hive – the “queen cell” – containing the larva that will develop into the hive’s next queen, receives particularly rich food from the worker bees: “royal jelly”.

The queen cell
The queen cell is in fact a royal cell built by the worker bees for the future queen.  When the queen is at the peak of her strength she will release a special substance, a “pheromone”, which suppresses the substances used for building the queen cell. Her ability to suppress the building of queen cells keeps her on the “throne”, but when she weakens her body produces less pheromones, and thus a queen cell can be built with no disturbance. The worker bees measure the special cell using their legs; thus they know that a future queen will hatch in this special cell and they provide this larva with high-quality royal food that is rich in proteins, and in fact crown the next queen.


A few years ago, bees began disappearing on a massive scale; this disappearance directly threatens food consumption by humans

The honey bee

This hive is too small for both of us?
Only one queen can live in a hive; thus if there is a revolt in the hive or the bees detect the queen’s weakness and a new queen is created, this new queen will leave with her accompanying workers in search of a new hive.

The honey bee
This is in fact the most well-known bee, but it is not the only type of bee. There are over 1,000 species of wild bees living in Israel; however, in contrast to the honey bees they do not live as a family, but rather as “single parents” that care for their own larvae. An in-depth study at Ramat Hanadiv is examining the concerning decrease in wild bees, putting them in danger of extinction.

Danger of extinction
A few years ago, bees began disappearing on a massive scale; this disappearance has troubled the sleep of researchers in Israel and around the world and directly threatens food consumption by humans.

דבורה מהסוג הליקטית

Most plants do not know how to reproduce without bees – these plants include some of the main components of human nutrition: cucumber, tomato, pepper, lettuce and more… the disappearance of bees poses a significant threat to the provision of food to animals in general and to humans in particular.

So the next time you see a bee, you should thank it and perhaps express your concern for its wellbeing, since you don’t get to meet someone who works in the royal palace every day.

And what can we do to protect bees – sweet tips:

  • Plant bee-attracting cultivated and wild plants, such as rosemary, sage or clover. Seedlings can be purchased at the InfoShop.
  • Do not kill bees! To get rid of a bee swarm contact “Red Bee Shield”.
  • Learn more about bees on the websites of Ramat Hanadiv and Sustainable Beekeeping RA.
  • To observe bee activity you can visit the Footprint Garden at Ramat Hanadiv.

Did you like it? Join our free mailing list to receive monthly news and updates about activities for the whole family. Register here.