The Queen - The Queen bee is the “life central” of the entire colony. The overall health or quality of the colony is ultimately a reflection of the overall health and vigor of the queen. The queen is the sole reproductively functional female of the entire hive. She is the only female with fully developed ovaries. The queen is much larger than all other bees in the colony. Her body is long and typically darker or with less striping contrast than the other members of the colony. She is an egg laying machine. The queen bee can produce well over 1000 eggs a day at an interval of 30-40 seconds.
Although the queen is a master egg-layer, she also plays a key role in hive or colony regulation. She produces chemicals called pheromones which control behavior and development of colony members.
The queen bee can live for over two years. However, as a queen bee ages her egg production decreases. In turn, the size of each brood and the colony will also decrease. The decrease in colony size will also result in decreased honey production. In addition, pheromone production may decrease. As a result, colony communication begins to breakdown. This may lead to a colony becoming unruly or disorganized. Under such circumstances, a beekeeper may decide to replace the queen.
The queen bee is considered very passive and even gentle. She does possess a stinger but this weapon is reserved for emerging queens who may threaten her position within the colony. She never leaves the hive while the hive is active and is followed by a host of attendants who tend her every need.