The Worker Bee

Learn about the intrepid worker bee — the colony member you see foraging for pollen. Find out how and why this little creature’s job changes.

Photo by Tosca Radigonda

Female worker bees make up most of the beehive and perform the various jobs that keep this superorganism up and running. If you’ve ever watched a honey bee on a flower, you’ve witnessed a worker bee carrying out one of her most vital tasks: foraging! But worker bees do much more than visit flowers. In fact, they spend the first half of their lives almost entirely inside the beehive.

Photo by Hilary Kearney

Although they are famed for their hard work, you may be surprised to find that the worker bees inside the hive are not running about at a frantic pace, but instead remain relatively motionless. When I look into a hive with students, they often ask what exactly each bee is doing. The amusing answer is that they are not doing much at all. They work in short bursts with long periods of inactivity in between. They even take naps!

Photo by Hilary Kearney

A Worker Bee’s Résumé

In her 6 weeks of life, a worker bee performs a variety of jobs within the hive, and these change as she ages. First she acts as a housekeeper, tidying up the cells. Then she transitions to a mix of other house tasks, sometimes performing two or more at a time: caring for brood, attending the queen, handling food, building comb, regulating temperature, and guarding the hive. There is even an undertaker bee tasked with removing sick or dead bees from the hive (in fact, only 1 percent of bees get this job).



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters