The Role Of Workers In A Bee Colony

Image of worker bee gathering nectar

Worker bees are smaller and thinner than drones or queen bees, with unique baskets on their rear legs to aid pollen collection. Like the queen honey bee, they have stingers, but they can only sting predators once before dying. They can, however, repeatedly sting other insects to safeguard the hive.

Although worker bees are female, they are unable to reproduce. They do all of the labor in the hive and have a lot of control over what happens within. Housekeeping, feeding the queen, drones, larvae, pollen and nectar collection, and wax production are their responsibilities. Worker bees only live for a short time during the busiest season because they work so hard.

Physical Differences That Make Worker Bees Special

Picture of large worker bee on flowerA worker bee’s anatomy differs slightly from that of her queen sister. On their rear legs, these foragers have stiff hairs. These are known as “pollen baskets,” and they are used to transport pollen to the hive.

Workers also have a honey stomach, a unique organ within their abdomen that collects nectar for the colony. This isn’t a regular aspect of their digestive system.

The honey bee colony’s only source of protein is pollen. Pollen is required for them to rear young or brood. Plant nectar is collected from millions of blooms to make honey. The colony will perish if there aren’t enough honey reserves.

Scout Worker Bees

Scout bees are worker bees whose primary job is to identify and locate a new hive site for the colony. When a hive becomes overcrowded, scout bees hunt for a new location for a segment of the colony to establish a new home. This frees up space in the existing hive, ensuring the bee species‘ survival.

Once a scout has located a good spot, they will return to the hive and perform a “dance” for the rest of the hive to see. This dance provides information on the scout’s discovery. If a single bee is spotted near your home, it’s likely a scout bee. Seeing a scout bee is a signal that your home may need honey bee removal services.

Worker Bee Life Cycle

Worker bee leaving hive cellAlthough all worker bees are female, they are frequently infertile. The queen lays the eggs, and they hatch three days later. The larvae of worker bees are fed royal jelly for two days, then pollen and honey for another two and a half days. They are subsequently imprisoned for 12 days in their cells, during which time they build a cocoon and mature into adults. The process takes a total of 20 days to finish.

Worker bees mature five days after queen bees. However, they live for a shorter period when compared to queen bees. In the summer, adults of this bee species live for an average of five to six weeks. During the winter, a worker may stay for up to six months to help the hive survive the cold and raise new workers during the spring and summer.

All worker bee larvae can convert into queen bees within the first 48 hours of their existence if the conditions are right, and the larvae were fed royal jelly instead of honey and pollen during their five-day growth period.

Duties Of The Worker Bee

The worker bee is precisely what it sounds like: a bee that works. She plays a variety of responsibilities in the hive, depending on her age.

She wants to be a nurse bee when she grows up. Bee larvae are nurtured and fed by these bees. They are responsible for digesting incoming nectar, feeding the queen, and producing and capping honey.

Older worker bees will depart the hive to gather the resources (nectar) that the colony requires to live. They have a risky and exhausting job, but they work from sunrise to sunset.

Worker Bee Life Expectancy

A worker’s life span during the active season is five to six weeks. Overwintering worker bees, on the other hand, can live for up to six months. Worker bees, regardless of their lifespan, usually focus on only one task at a time, working nonstop. They could be scouts or collectors if they’re field bees. Scouts hunt for nectar and pollen sources. The scouts recruit more foragers whenever adequate sources have been found. After approximately 500 miles of flying, death happens. 1Go To Source -“The life of the bee”

Worker Bee Stings

Because the stinger is a product of an evolutionary quirk, worker bees are the only bees that can sting. Drones do not have stingers, and queen bees only sting other queens.

The only bees having barbed stingers are workers in a honey beehive. The bee can only sting once because of this. The stinger will pierce the victim’s flesh. However, this will cause the bee to separate from the victim.

The bee will die after stinging due to this trauma, having given its life to protect the hive. If a person approaches their hive, these bees are more likely to sting, but they can also sting if they are disturbed or sense a threat. 2Go To Source -“Why do honey bees die when they sting”




  1. “Information Sheet 27, The Life of the Bee.” Arizona.Edu, Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.
  2. Keatley Garvey, Kathy. “Why Do Honey Bees Die When They Sting.” ANR Blogs, 2 Oct. 2014,
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  5. Ratnieks, F. L. W.; Helantera, H. (2009). “The evolution of extreme altruism and inequality in insect societies”. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 364 (1533): 3169–79.