The worker bee makes up between 90 and 99% of the bee hive depending on how many males or drones are in the hive. She is the backbone of the hive. Let’s look at her humble beginning and existence. Her life from her hatching to her death may only last as little as six weeks. Many bees literally work themselves to death and all in the name of preserving the hive during the spring and summer harvesting season.

Like all other bees she will start out as an egg about the size of a grain of rice which is deposited in a cell in the honeycomb by the queen. The egg will grow until it becomes a pupa or baby. At this time the other bees will feed her a combination of pollen and royal jelly. They will eventually cut the royal jelly consumption off and continue to feed the baby pollen. Too much royal jelly and the pupa will become a queen. Too little royal jelly and the pupa will become a drone. She is given just enough to make her female, but her ovaries will not become developed like the queen.


The pupa will grow with her head pointed toward the opening so she can be fed. She will grow to snuggly fill the cell. When the bees determine the worker is old enough, they will seal the cell over with wax and let the baby continue to grow. At the right time she will “hatch” out of the cell. The whole process is similar to the process of the caterpillar turning into a butterfly.

Once the developed pupa becomes a bee she will eat her way out of the cell casing. Her first order of business is to clean the cell she just came out of to prepare it for another egg. This is a janitorial phase and once done she will move on to the nursing stage where she will help other nurse bees take care of the young. She can’t fly just yet so she must work inside the hive. She will help retrieve pollen from the bees as they arrive. The pollen is stored for later use or used immediately to feed the babies. She will also consume honey and will excrete beeswax during this phase in order to build up the hive.

The next phase is where her wings have a greater strength and development, but not quite enough to allow for long flights. The stinger is developing too. In this phase, the guardian or protecting phase, the worker will stay close to the hive and still has some duties within. As she guards the hive she will continue to flex and strengthen her wings. "