How Long Do Bees Live? Discover More About Our Bumble Bee Buddies

Siddharth Shirwadkar
Mar 16, 2023 By Siddharth Shirwadkar
Originally Published on Nov 23, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Bee colony life
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

The honey bee is an insect that has long provided humans with crucial things such as beeswax and honey.

This insect has spawned an entire industry. This industry focuses on making sure that bees have a habitat not only to survive, but to thrive.

This has been significant as honey bees around the world have been losing their colonies in the wild due to aggressive human expansion, and is a species in dire need of protection. The reason that bees are such an important part of the environment is due to their roles as pollinators.

This means that honey bees work to transport pollen and is a key figure in pollination, the process by which plants reproduce.

Without honey bees, a large part of plants that have relied on insect pollination fail to receive aid and may die out. The honey bee ensures that the various species of plant life continue to exist and does not disappear completely.

If not for the honey bee, a lot of rainforests, the areas of nature that are critical and essential to human survival because of the larger effect they have on the ozone layer, will go out of existence.

It is interesting to know that this entire act of gathering pollen is just a side result of the bee looking for its food. While scavenging for nectar, the pollen sticks on to the bee and later results in pollination.

The understanding of the importance of bees is not one that is recent and the profession of bee-keeping has been one that has been going on for centuries.

The responsibilities of a bee keeper are but not only limited to nurse bees that may have been injured by larger predators, maintaining a safe space for hives, extracting excess honey that is produced since bees produce two to three times more honey than they actually require.

It has become a popular job opportunity that has shown the masses the more friendlier and amiable side of bees, as opposed to the stinging menaces image popularized by cartoons.

The honey bee scavenges for nectar in order to not only create honey, but storing nectar in order to provide food for the colony and feeding larvae. Honey bees produce honey by breaking down the nectar into a simpler form and using the honeycomb structure of the hive to produce the honey.

Bees usually produce about 55 lb (25 kg) of excess honey per hive and this is what we extract to be used and sold commercially.

A honey bee colony lives in a hive, that works for a major part of the year. Bees are extremely social insects, giving rise to the popular expression social bees, and has subdivided itself into different levels of hierarchy in their social structure according to their work.

This sub divisions are the queen bee, the worker bee, and the drone bee.

While knowledge of the queen and worker bees is common, a lesser known fact is that drone bees are the males and work only to reproduce. All three of these divisions have their own assigned work and will usually do this work nonstop.

After reading all about how long do bees live, also check out common frog food and common gecko food.

How long do bees live?

You must be wondering how long do bees lives? The answer to that question is a difficult one as there is no exact average lifespan for a bee.

Honey bees' lifespan differs due to the type of work that a bee is assigned and collectively giving it a mean number to calculate the bee lifespan would be misleading as the life cycle for different bees changes. The lifespan of the honey bee depends on its level of pollen consumption.

The queen bee usually lives much longer in the hive compared to worker bees because of the much more important role that it plays in honey bee society.

The life cycle of the honey bee, similar to other insects, starts off as eggs that are laid by a queen bee. A drone bee, which are the males, will live for the shortest period of time, as its only objective is to mate with the queen in order to produce more bees.

Additionally, drone bees are left to fend off for themselves during hibernation periods as they are pushed out of the colonies.

How long do bumble bees live?

Bumble bees are among the more soft natured insects. Like the honey bee, the bumble bee too starts off as an egg. Determining an average age is a difficult task as there are different factors that are at play, just like with the honey bee.

Factors include what the assigned work for the bee is and the regions where it lives. The species that are found in tropical climates generally have a greater lifespan since the bee colony thrives in warmer regions.

Queen bumble bees live to have an average lifespan of one year. The majority of this is spent in hibernation, and the queen bumble bee comes out during the warmer season to lay and guard her eggs and this is all that it does during its life cycle.

This may be shortened due to problems such as parasites, diseases that threaten the health and well being of the queen bee. The worker bumble bee has a shorter lifespan of two to six weeks.

An interesting fact to know is that the males have a shorter lifespan of two weeks as their role is largely limited to finding a virgin queen in order to reproduce. These male bees live for this short period and eventually die.

Honey Bee on Yellow Flower

How long do queen bees live?

The queen bee plays an essential part of providing the hive with enough eggs so that the colony continues to be populated.

Queen bees' lifespan usually ranges from somewhere around two to three years. Her life expectancy may reach four years if she is free from any form of illness.

Some reports show a lifespan of six years, which is much much higher than solitary bees or bumble bees. During this period, the queen may lay up to 2000 eggs per day. New queens usually have one mating flight in their lifespan with male bees and then systematically lay eggs to support the colony.

It is perhaps the most important bee, since it provides bee numbers and ensures that enough bees are available to work. As the queen bee grows older, the hive then starts feeding the larvae royal jelly.

This royal jelly provides the larvae with better fertility so that a new queen bee will be found as replacement to the old queen.

At the end of its lifespan, the queen bee is stung multiple times by bees in the hive and then is replaced by a new queen. Additionally, it is bee keeper's policy to change the queen bee every one to two years.

How long do worker bees live?

The worker bee is the most populace and common category of bee. These bees live to collect pollen and nectar, produce honey, and store food to feed the larvae.

These bees operate largely during the warm season, so they are also referred to as summer workers, and worker honey is one of their objectives. Worker bees' lifespan is considerably shorter than the queen bee, at five to six weeks, which is spent entirely serving the hive.

These bees are female bees and producing honey through nectar is their only motive to sustain the hive.

A worker's life includes foraging for pollen and nectar to produce wax and honey, and ensuring the larvae are taken care of. Worker bees are kept being replaced and their numbers are replenished as queen bees only work on laying eggs.

A fun fact about worker bees is that these are the only bees you will ever see outside the hive, so if you have the misfortune of being stung by one, you will know that it was a worker bee. It is interesting to note that only the honey bee will die, after about 10 minutes, after stinging.

Other bees, such as the bumble bee, can use its sting multiple times before it becomes fatal for it.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how long do bees live then why not take a look at how long do foxes live, or what is a group of elephants called.

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Written by Siddharth Shirwadkar

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Multimedia and Mass Communication

Siddharth Shirwadkar picture

Siddharth ShirwadkarBachelor of Arts specializing in Multimedia and Mass Communication

Siddharth is a talented content writer with over a year of experience in content writing, based in Mumbai. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia and Mass Communication from Mithibai College of Arts. With a passion for reading and music, Siddharth has demonstrated his ability to create engaging content that resonates with his audience.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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