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Life Cycle of a Honey Bee: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

What's the ~'buzz~' all about with the life cycle of a honey bee? Learn how to identify and describe the four stages, as well as some of the fascinating things that take place during each special stage.

Metamorphosis

What do butterflies, frogs and honeybees have in common? Metamorphosis, of course! Metamorphosis is the process of an animal changing form as it grows up, also known as a life cycle. The life cycle of a honeybee ranges from 16-24 days, depending on what kind of bee it is. Queen bees, or the head bees, take 16 days. Worker bees, or the other female bees, take 21 days. The drones, or the male bees, take 24 days. There are four stages to the life cycle: egg, larva, pupa and adult. All of this magic takes place inside a beehive.

The three kinds of honeybees: queen at the top, worker in the middle, drone on the bottom
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Egg Stage

Just like all other insects, the life cycle of a honeybee begins with an egg. The queens lay eggs every winter in honeycomb cells. The queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day! These aren't the same kinds of eggs that you scramble or make into an omelet- honeybee eggs are tiny, even smaller than a grain of rice. Most eggs will become worker bees, while some eggs will become drones.

During the egg stage, the bees begin to develop their digestive and nervous systems, but they do not have legs, eyes or any other body parts. After being in the egg for about three days, the egg will hatch and the next stage begins.

Larva Stage

The larvae (the plural form of 'larva') are still almost microscopic in size, so they are easy to miss without a microscope or magnifying glass. The larva does not have legs or eyes, and this stage normally lasts for about nine days. Larvae have a favorite food, and it is called royal jelly. Royal jelly doesn't come in a jar; rather, it comes out of the worker bees' heads! The royal jelly is made up of water, protein and sugar. During the larva stage, the future honeybee grows so quickly that it has to shed its skin five times!

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