The queen is the only fertile female in the colony. It is the only member that is able to lay fertilized eggs. The queen bee continually emits pheromones (a bee perfume) that only the bees in the hive can smell. These pheromones keep the female workers sterile and also act as a signal to assure all the bees in the colony that the queen is alive and all is well in the hive. It is believed that this unique scent provides the colony a sense of identity and personality. The queen mates early in life, stores up millions of sperm within her body, and fertilizes her eggs as and when needed. She is capable of producing up to 2,000 eggs within a single day. To produce drones, she lays unfertilized eggs. A queen bee lives for 3- 5 years. However, when it falters in her egg-laying performance, the hive will start looking for a replacement and feed royal jelly to a developing larva.
Worker bees constitute the largest population in the colony and are all females. They are unable to produce fertilized eggs, however if there is no queen, they sometimes lay unfertilized eggs, which become male drones. Each worker bee, guided by a biological clock, assumes different responsibilities and performs specific job duties as she reaches a certain age. Below are the different jobs and roles of the worker bees.
Worker bees become cleaners of brood cells when they are only one or two days old. They are responsible for cleaning and polishing the empty cells that ready to receive new eggs and store nectar and pollen. The queen inspects the cells and if they are not clean, the cleaners will have to do it again.
When the worker bees are a little older, they become in charge of removing dead bees and disposal of the corpses to a place as far from the hive as possible. Diseased or dead broods are also quickly removed by the undertakers before becoming a health threat to the colony.