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Bees in numbers

People has many questions about bees. In this article, I have tried to answer the questions you ask very often. To learn more about these surprising insects and which have a lot to teach us.

The lifespan of a bee:

Simple question but multiple answer.

A worker bee lives about six weeks. Three weeks inside the hive where she will be a nurse, cleaner, wax worker and finally defender at the entrance to the hive. Then, the bee ventures outside the hive where it acquires the status of forager.

During the winter, the bee stops feeding the larvae and thereby changes its metabolism. These bees live six months and die after feeding the first larvae. They therefore ensure the transition from one season to another. They are called winter bees and are essential for starting the colony in the spring.

The queen lives four to five years. However, it is often replaced after two production seasons to avoid swarming.

How much honey is collected in a beehive?

A beehive can harvest between 40 and 150 lbs of honey over a season. It depends on the breed of bees, the climate and also the environment. Variable weather conditions from year to year also play an important role.

Some beekeepers boast of going up to 210 lbs per hive. I have never noticed it and I therefore quote the figure with caution.

In fact bees produce a lot more because we must not forget that bees consume part of the honey produced during the year.

From what temperature does a bee leave the hive?

A bee flies from eight degrees. At this temperature, there will not be much activity. The outputs will increase with the temperature, the sun and of course the blooms synonymous with honey. A bee survives without problem in its hive even if the temperature drops to -20 °C (-4 °F).

How much does a bee weigh?

A bee weighs 100 mg. She can carry 30 to 60 mg of nectar in her crop. This nectar that she brings back to the hive is not honey but rather sugar water. Enzymes present in the crop will transform the nectar into honey.

The bee finishes the job by evaporating the excess water. This evaporation occurs by passing cold, dry air over the honey, which will then take on water. The bees by vibrating their wings will provide ventilation to evacuate the air outside.

How many bees in a hive?

At the end of winter, there are twenty to thirty thousand bees in a hive. Spring development will bring this number up to sixty thousand bees by the end of May at the beginning of June. Then the number will stabilize and decrease at the end of the honey flow.

How many eggs can the queen lay?

The queen begins to lay eggs in January when the days are getting longer. She lays 50 to 150 eggs per day. Then the number of eggs laid will gradually increase to reach up to 2,500 eggs at the height of the honey flow. During her lifetime, a queen lays between 300,000 and 500,000 eggs.

Reproduction in figures

Between seven and 15 males fertilize a single queen during a fertilization flight. Copulation only lasts a few seconds. Between 5.3 and 5.7 million sperm are stored in the spermathecum following fertilization.

Fifteen to thirty percent of queens die or disappear during the fertilization flight.


The foraging area of a colony can be up to 3 miles from the hive. At the start of the season, the bees do not move away much but will extend their range of action during the honey flow period. The foraging area covers 19 mi².

The bee favors areas with a lot of resources but not too far from the hive. She will prefer an orchard 1 and 1/4 mile away to a single tree 500 yards from the apiary.

In one day, a colony can visit up to 10 million flowers. Foragers cover up to 62000 miles in a day. This explains the essential role that bees play in pollination and agricultural production.

How many bees in a swarm?

This varies depending on the size of the original colony. Usually the queen leaves with half the bees. A primary swarm, the first to leave, is therefore generally 30 to 35 thousand bees, or +/- three kilos. Swarms of four kilos are sometimes mentioned.

Under certain conditions, multiple births of queens and departure one after the other (secondary, tertiary swarms, etc.) the number of bees decreases in the swarm.

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