Sequence of Duties of Worker (Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers)

Bee Health July 03, 2009 Print Friendly and PDF

Workers do the work in the bee society. The figure below summarizes the phases of life of a worker bee. It is possible to identify a .rule of three,. such as three brood stages, three days as an egg, 2 X 3 days as larva, 3 X 4 days as pupa, three weeks as hive bees, three weeks as a field bee before death, etc. Workers generally start with hive duties like cleaning, feeding developing larva once hypopharyngeal glands develop, ripening of honey, secreting/molding of wax into combs (once wax glands are functional), followed by guarding and orientation flights. They become field bees after about three weeks and then literally work until their body wears out. Field foragers collect the necessary food (nectar/pollen) plus water to cool the hive and dilute honey and propolis to fight disease pathogens/improve the natural cavity.

(USDA figure)
(USDA figure)

Back to Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers table of contents

The above text is taken from The Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research & Extension Consortium, Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers; Fact Sheet,MAAREC Publication 1.4 March 2004. You can download this factsheet and others at the MAAREC website

Connect with us

  • Facebook
  • YouTube


This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by



This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.