The Roles of Different Bees in a Native Beehive

by Bush Bees Admin

The Roles of Different Bees in a Native Beehive

There are a number of different types of bee in a stingless beehive, each with a different role.

Worker (female)

Worker bees make up the vast majority of the population. They are infertile female bees and do most of the jobs around the hive. These bees will have a number of roles over their lifetime, which generally correlate with their age (the oldest bees doing the riskiest tasks). Here are some (in order of general occurrence):

  • Building brood comb - this is the first job a bee will have when they hatch.

  • Nursing - bees look after the egg cells and the recently hatched.

  • Managing food and resources - bees process honey, help forager bees to store food in pots, construct new connectives, etc

  • Guarding - bees sit at the entrance of the hive to guard from any pests or predators.

  • Waste removal - bees take small balls of rubbish (old egg cells, waste, etc) out of the hive and carry them away. This is often the first time a bee will leave the hive.

  • Foraging - bees that leave the hive to collect nectar, pollen, and resin. These bees are typically the oldest as it is the most dangerous job.

Drone (male)

These are male bees. They are quite difficult to distinguish from worker bees to the untrained eye. They often sit with their antennae perked up in an unusual way. They don't do any of the household roles such as nursing, guarding, rubbish removal, or foraging, and they don't participate in fighting swarms. Their sole job is to try and find a mate, and spread their genetics. They can travel up to 25km from their home in their attempt to do this.



The queen bee is in charge of laying all of the eggs in the hive. She mates once, at the start of her life, and will go on laying hundreds of eggs every day until the day she dies. She is visibly larger than all of the other bees, and often seems to have light stripes.



A princess is a queen bee that has not yet mated. Stingless bees often keep a small number of these in the hive as a 'reserve', in case anything happens to the reigning queen.


Callow - could be any of the above

A callow is a recently born bee, it will be a light beige colour (which will darken over the next 24 hours).

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