Her Royal Majesty

Her Royal Majesty

Jun 2nd 2015

I'd like to start by introducing you to the Queen.

But first I think you should know something about the beehive...

You see, most hives are well-enclosed for protection from the harsh environment. Commercial hives are kept in cozy wood boxes. Wild hives are generally found in tree trunks, stumps or some other protected place.

Bees are very familiar with their hive and do quite well in the dark. They communicate by smell, vibrations, physical interaction with the other bees, and, probably most important: pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that bees give off to signal other bees. For instance, there are alarm pheromones that signal danger, and The Queen gives off Queen pheromones that signal the nurse bees to attend her. They also let all the other bees of the hive know that their Queen is well and ready to lead. Speaking of the Queen, let's go meet her!

May I introduce Her Royal Majesty The Queen Bee.

A queen honeybee is a very special creature. The queen is the mother of all the bees of the beehive. There is only one queen in a colony of honeybees that may number up to 80,000 members. She may live several years, but worker bees live only a few weeks to 50 days. Without constant egg-laying by the queen the bee colony would soon die. Genetically speaking, the queen is responsible for contributing her own characteristics, (along with the male drones), to the bees of the hive. Thus, the bees of the hive are, indeed, "made from the same mold" as the queen. One of the most important functions of the queen is to enforce the social order of the hive. She does this by her very presence! "Queen Substance" is a pheromone that the queen secretes to let the member bees know that all is well in the hive. 

Pheromones are chemical substances secreted by the body that like members of the same species recognize and respond to. Bees in a colony "share" the queen's pheromones among themselves, and thus recognize fellow members, as well as identify intruders. The absence of a queen causes obvious "distress" among bees of the colony. These bees are much different than bees in a hive with an active queen. What makes the queen so different from other members of the Hive?