Bees work in colonies, and each of them serves a unique purpose. The queen bee is the most important and protected bee in the hive, and they’re usually a bit bigger than the rest. Bees and wasps have workers who create the hive or nest, collect food, defend the queen, and raise newborn bees.
A queen bee is about 25mm long and has a large abdomen compared to a 15mm honeybee or 20mm bumblebee. Wasps are typically about 20 to 25mm, making them close to the queen’s size. The queen can lay eggs, sting multiple times, and more. All other bees are tasked to defend her.
|Honeybee||15mm||Slender with yellow and black stripes and long wings that stretch almost their whole bodies||Protect the queen, gather pollen, create honey, and raise their young|
|Bumblebee||20mm||Similar to honeybees but with a much thicker abdomen and wide, short wings. They’re quite fuzzy, too.||The same role as the honey bee, but they don’t produce a surplus of honey other than what’s necessary|
|Queen Bee/Wasp||25mm||The queen bee has a longer abdomen than the worker bees to produce eggs and mate. She also has shorter wings||The queen bee or wasp lays eggs and creates new colonies, if necessary|
|Wasp||20 to 25mm||A wasp has a long, narrow body with bold black and yellow stripes. They can sting multiple times, unlike most bees||A worker wasp is tasked with protecting the queen, gathering food, and raising their young|
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the size, role, and appearance of wasps, honeybees, bumblebees, and queen bees. We’ll also explain how you can identify them and why each bee is essential to the hive’s success.
Do Queen Bees Look Different From Regular Bees?
Queen bees look different from regular bees and wasps because they’re longer, skinner, and have slightly wider bodies. They also have longer wings and can sting multiple times without dying, unlike most worker bees. Furthermore, they’re raised in queen cups until they eat their way out of their waxy covering.
So, how do they look unique?
- Queen bees have shorter, skinnier wings than most other bees. Many people can spot a queen bee based on its wings. Her thin, clear wings will stretch halfway down her body, unlike bumblebees and honeybees whose wings go almost all the way down.
- They have a longer body because they need room to produce tons of eggs weekly. According to Perfect Bee, some queen bees lay as many as 2,000 eggs every day! Their elongated abdomens harbor all of these eggs that are produce at rapid rates. The worker bees know she as to be protected if their colony needs to survive.
- Queen bees usually have a brighter body than the workers. Their bright bodies help worker bees identify them. However, queen bees also produce pheromones that all bees and wasps can sense and know where she is. The combination of appearance and scent makes them easy to spot for humans and bees alike.
The queen bee looks incredibly unique and can be spotted from above. She’s typically surrounded by worker bees who are feeding and protecting her while she hatches or lays eggs. That being said, the queen has a lot of work to do, too!
What Is a Queen Bees Purpose in the Hive?
The queen bee’s purpose is to lay eggs and control the colonies via hormone scents. Bee Hollow Farm explains a queen bee controls the hive’s behavior by releasing chemicals that direct their behavior. Without these chemicals, the workers won’t be able to identify a threat as easily, know when it’s time to relocate, or when they need a new queen.
Without the queen, no hive would survive. Queens are often the only bees that lay eggs, especially in wasp colonies. The queen eventually dies and needs to be replaced with other queens who are protected in the previously mentioned queen cups. If a new queen hatches too early, she can fight for dominance of the hive or leave with a swarm to start a new one.
The queen typically doesn’t move too much once she finishes her swarm (if she leaves the hive). Either way, she needs to mate with over a dozen bees to produce eggs. In most colonies, the bees who mate with the queen die immediately after.
What Do Regular Bees Do for the Hive?
Worker bees, including bumblebees, honeybees, and wasps, work for the hive by protecting everything, gathering supplies, and tending to the queen’s eggs. Although one worker bee isn’t as important as the queen bee, their combined force is required to keep the colony alive and functioning properly.
Here are the three primary jobs of honeybees, bumblebees, and wasps:
- Honeybees, bumblebees, and wasps have to get food for the colony. Orkin shows worker bees are supposed to gather nectar and pollen to feed the queen and every other bee in the hive. The queen has to focus on reproduction, so she doesn’t have time to gather these supplies.
- They must raise their young and help produce new queens. Many hives only have one queen, even if they have thousands of workers. However, when the queen’s scent weakens, and she begins to die, they have to raise another queen. The workers will build waxy shelters to encourage the growth of a new, healthy queen bee.
- Their primary purpose is to protect the queen. Once the queen is hatched, every bee has to protect her. They have many other functions, but they’re also guards against other beehives and potential predators.
Now that you know what bees and wasps do, you can preserve their colonies for many years to come. Bees are an integral part of the food chain because they pollinate flowers, provide honey, and more. Identifying which bees are near your home or local park will let you know what they’re up to!