Bees Life Cycle Stages

Similar to most insects, the life cycle of bees also start with the eggs. However, the entire life cycle is a bit complicated since not all bees play a single role after hatching. The queen bee is the one deciding on the sex of all her offspring and is the only one laying eggs. There are a lot of fun facts about bees, below are important ones you should know about the entire cycle below.

Types of Bees and Their Individual Life Cycles

There are different types or classes of bees in a nest. These classes are the queen, workers, and drones. Below is a table with the individual life span of every type:

Type or Class of Bee

Length of Time in Every Stage







3 days

5 days

8 days

16 days

20 days


3 days

5 days

13 days

21 days

21 days


3 days

8 days

13 days

24 days

34 days


Stages of a Honey Bee Life Cycle

Honeybees and other bee species go through these stages and all play different roles in their nests. Below are different stages that a bee goes through to reach adulthood.


The queen lays an egg in every cell in their comb. An egg is cylindrical and measures about 0.4 in diameter and 1.6 mm in length.

At first, the egg stands vertically. It starts to bend over on the second day and lays sideways on the third day. On the following day, the egg hatches and a white legless larva will come out.


Once it hatches, the larva will stay coiled on the bottom of its cell. Its body is comprised of three segments: head, thoracic, and abdominal part. As workers feed it, it will grow bigger and shed for five times until it emerges into the next stage.

The larva is usually fed with royal jelly for its first two or three days. After these days, they are fed with beebread, which is a combination of pollen and honey. After nine days upon hatching, it will reach it will turn into a pupa and will no longer be fed.

This is the time when the cells are capped with a porous cover made of pollen and wax. It will then start changing into a pupa.

Pupa Stage

As the larva reaches the 10th day, it will spin a cocoon and turns into a pupa. This is the stage when the body structure is forming. The head will start transforming first and followed by the thorax where the colour will change. The last to transform is the abdomen and then the wings will develop last before it emerges from the cell.


As the 21st day comes, adults will start biting its way out and emerge. She will start cleaning the cell along with the cells around. This will prepare the cells for new eggs. The colour of a newly emerged bee is greyish.

How is the Reproduction and Development in a Bee’s Life?

To control the sex of the queen’s offspring, the egg will pass from the ovary to the oviduct. The queen will then determine if an egg is fertilized with the sperm released from the spermatheca. Fertilized eggs will develop into females that can be assigned as a worker or the next queen. Unfertilized eggs, on the other hand, become males or drone bees.

For eggs that will develop into queens, the queen will lay it in specially constructed cells. These cells are pointing downward and are peanut-shaped. The eggs will adhere to every cell’s ceiling.

To prevent the larva from falling, each cell is filled with royal jelly. This special jelly is what the workers feed the larva throughout their larval stage.

There are multipurpose, horizontal, and larger cells in the comb where worker bees develop till maturity. Future workers only receive the special jelly on the first two to three days. This difference contributes to the variation in the function and anatomy of adult bee workers from queens.

Duties of a Worker Bee after Emergence

The table below will show the duties done by workers upon emergence and the period of time for every duty.


Period of Time

Clean cells and warm brood nests.

1 to 2 days

Feed older larvae with pollen and honey.

3 to 5 days

Feed special jelly to young larvae.

6 to 11 days

Produce wax and build comb. Ripens the honey.

12 to 17 days

Guide the entrance of the hive and ventilate the entire hive.

18 to 25 days

Forage for pollen, nectar, water, and propolis.

25 to death