Bees are stunning animals that enrich our ecosystems around the country. We all know that insects have a short lifespan but how long do bees live?
The life expectancy of a bee can be up to 2 years, although this depends on the bee species and the living conditions.
In this article, we explore how long specific bee species live and the individual lifespan of Queen bees, worker bees and drones.
How Long Does A Bee Live?
Depending on the specific bee species, a bee can live between 15 days and 2 years.
The lifespan of Queen bees and worker bees also vary significantly as worker bees live a much shorter life than their Queen.
Plus, there are also lifespan variations according to season. Bees can live much longer in winter than in summer because they work less during the colder months.
For example, a honey worker bee can live up to 200 days in winter, while it survives only a maximum of 38 days in the summer months.
The Lifespan Of Honey Bees
The life expectancy of a honey bee depends on the time of year it was born and the role it performs in the colony.
Worker bees born in spring or summer can survive between 2 and 6 weeks, while worker bees that hatched in winter only live for 20 weeks.
Lifespan Of Queen Honey Bees
Generally, a Queen honey bee lives between one and two years. However, beekeepers have also reported their queens to live for up to six years.
As long as a queen bee is disease-free, she can live healthily for up to five years, although beekeepers usually replace their queens after two years to get the best breeding results.
This being said, the lifespan of a honey bee queen is much longer than a solitary bee and a bumblebee queen.
Beekeepers may also find that a queen bee that is no longer in favor of the colony’s worker bees may also be removed by them.
In this scenario, the colony will create a new queen bee and the old queen is replaced immediately. This process is known as “supersedure” in the bee world.
Lifespan Of Honey Bee Workers
Worker bees that are born and raised during the warm spring and summer months can live between two and six weeks.
This is relatively short compared to worker honey bees that are born in winter. They survive for up to 20 weeks.
The reason for this vast difference in life expectancy is that worker bees have an extremely busy life during the summer.
They have plenty of hungry larvae to feed and build a honeycomb. This is strenuous work for a honey bee which means that it affects its survival rate.
On the other hand, worker honey bees that are born in autumn don’t need to care for a brood as the queen doesn’t produce any eggs at this time of year.
This means that the workers huddle together to keep the queen warm and they are all awaiting the warmer spring.
This leisurely lifestyle of winter workers allows these bees to survive for up to 20 weeks.
Lifespan Of Honey Bee Drones
Drone honey bees can live for up to 30 days, although they die immediately after they mate with the queen.
Lifespan Of Bumblebees
Bumblebees can live for between six weeks and a year. The bumblebee’s lifespan depends on the individual bee colony and where it lives.
Bumble bee colonies can survive for much longer when they live in warmer climates, such as the tropics.
This means that the lifespan of bumblebees varies depending on country and region. Cold temperatures and snow mean that bees die sooner.
Lifespan Of A Queen Bumblebee
A bumblebee queen can live for up to one year, providing that she is free from disease and not threatened by predators or pesticides.
While this is longer than other bumblebees, the majority of her 365-day bee existence is spent in hibernation.
New bumblebee queens are born in late summer or early fall. These bees then mate and feed to build up fat reserves.
Once this is done, they will hibernate during the winter months and the new queens emerge in early spring the following year.
Lifespan Of A Worker Bumblebee
Bumblebee workers can live for up to six weeks, although some species may have a shorter lifespan.
The life expectancy of a bumblebee worker depends on its individual species and its living conditions.
Some beekeepers believe that bumblebees responsible for nest duties live longer than workers who need to forage.
Foraging workers live a higher-risk life as they are exposed to different weather conditions and predators.
Lifespan Of Male Bumblebees
There are no specific accounts about the lifespan of male bumblebees.
However, they tend to emerge with the new queens which means that male bees need to live (see also: What Bees Live In The Ground?)for at least several weeks.
Lifespan Of Solitary Bees
Unlike bumblebees and honey bees, solitary bees are a lot hardier and they are used to harsher environments.
This means that solitary bees can survive for up to 10 years. This being said, their life expectancy depends on the species and the individual breeding time.
Some solitary bee species, such as Habropoda, have larvae that can stay inside the nest for over ten years.
While not all larvae survive, some of them delay their emergence for some time until ideal conditions are present.
For example, desert bees may only come out when it is raining. This provides them with the best chances of survival.
How Long Does A Bee Live After It Stings You?
It takes only a few minutes for bees to die after they sting you. Their barbs get stuck in your skin and while the bee tries to escape, it rips away part of its internal organs and abdomen.
Honey bees, bumblebees and solitary bees all have a relatively short lifespan that ranges from a couple of weeks up to six years.