The Short Life of a Honeybee
The saying goes “it’s better to burn out, then fade away” and worker honey bees are all in on that approach! Bees have a variable lifespan depending on the caste (queen, drone or worker) and the time of year. Queens live the longest of any honey bee with a lifespan of 3-5 years. There are reports of queens laying into their 7th year. If you’re a queen bee, you have to produce or you’ll be replaced by the hive in short order.
Drones are produced beginning in Spring and through the Summer months. Their lives come to an abrupt end when they mate with the queen (mating results in death…bummer), or they are driven out of the hive by the worker bees at the end of Summer to starve or freeze to death.
Worker bees average about 40 days of life during the Spring and Summer. They literally work themselves to death foraging. Workers born in late Fall are intended to carry the hive through Winter and can live 4-5 months since they do little flying when the weather gets cold. Next time you reach for the honey, give a quick thanks to those hard working honey bees!