how long do bees live for

How Long Do Bees Live? (Bee Lifespans Explained)

Last updated on January 17th, 2024 at 01:29 pm

While there isn’t one single answer to how long a bee lives, the western honeybee worker lives for between 35 – 180 days based on several factors including season and location. Bumblebee workers live for less time between 13 and 41 days.

How Long Do Honey Bees Live For?

Type Of HoneybeeLife Cycle
Queen15 – 1460 days
Worker Bee35 – 180 days
Drone31- 90 days

Honeybee life cycles vary based on lots of factors and it’s best to break down the defining factors into worker, queen and drone bees:

Worker Honey Bees Lifespan

For a worker bee to hatch the queen must fertilise an egg to create a female worker bee.

During their early stage as larvae, the worker bees are fed repeatedly up to 800 times a day to speed up growth.

The time of year honeybee workers hatches makes a huge difference to their expected life expectancy.

A worker hatched in summer can expect a lifespan as short as 5 weeks whereas an autumn brood can sometimes see up to 180 days.

Queen Honeybee Lifespan

Unlike worker honeybees, queens are actually hatched from unfertilised eggs like drones.

The major difference between the two is the diet they are fed, queens are fed a diet of exclusively ‘royal jelly’ jam-packed with everything required to grow a queen in as little as 15 days.

The life of a queen is directly related to her productivity, as long as the queen is producing a regular healthy brood she will continue her reign.

If the hive decides that the queen is starting to lose her potency they will initiate the process of supersedure, laying new queens to replace the current monarch.

Some queens have been recorded living as long as 6 years but 4 years would be considered a long reign for a honeybee queen.

Drone Honey Bee Lifespan

Drone bees are unfertilised eggs, their main goal is to fertilise queens and after they hatch they have a few days to orientate themselves then they take the flight to mate with queens from other hives.

This is a deadly undertaking for drone bees as successful suitors will be killed in the act.

Drones are a massive drain on the resources of the hive with no direct benefit and as such can be ejected during the winter months to extend the life of food supplies within the hive.

Type Of HoneybeeEggLarvaPupaTime Until Hatched
Queen3 days8 days4 days15 days
Worker Bee3 days9 days8 days20 days
Drone3 days13 days7 days23 days
bee collecting pollen and nectar

How Long Do Bumble Bees Live?

Unlike their relation to the honeybee, bumblebees have a much lower life expectancy with the maximum life of a bumblebee queen being just one year.

Interestingly the early bumble bee can appear in the UK as early as February but only survives up to 14 weeks.

Type Of BumblebeeLife Cycle
Queen365 days
Worker Bee13 – 41 days
Drone14 – 28 days

Worker Bumblebee Lifespan

The lifespan of a bumblebee varies between species of bumblebee.

In general, bees that spend their lives in the nest tend to have much longer life expectancy due to predators and being fully exposed to the elements while foraging for resources.

Queen Bumblebee Lifespan

New bumblebee queens hatch in late summer-early autumn, shortly after they will mate and go about feeding relentlessly to create a surplus of energy for hibernation over winter.

When the new bumblebee queen emerges in early spring she will go about rearing her own young to create a new colony for the summer to come.

Male Bumblebee Lifespan

Once a male bumblebee has reached maturity it will leave the nest in hunt of other queens to mate with.

This will be its final time in the nest as male bumblebees will rest for the evening out in the wild usually inside a flower or leaf for protection.

As the morning sky starts to light the heavens they will begin to feed and recharge their energy levels for another day of courting.

male bumblebee resting
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