The story of a single cell within a beehive

Egg shells and larval food

But what about all that waste? Think about this for a second. We start with an egg with a “shell” (see below). Then we add food for the larva, which has the capacity to grow to 1,500 times the size of the egg in a very short period of time. Then bees cap the call, so there’s the capping itself.

Let’s start with the shell of the egg. This is quite different to the hard, brittle exterior we know through chicken or duck eggs. Instead, the egg of a honey bee is a soft, translucent material called chorion. Unlike the “cracking” of an egg we see when we prepare our breakfast, chorion simply dissolves and is eventually absorbed by the larva. So, that takes care of the egg (shell)!

Next up is the larval food placed in to the cell by workers. The fate of this is rather obvious, namely it is consumed by the larva as fuel for her growth. This will facilitate her transition from larva to pupa and, eventually, to emerge from the cell as an adult bee.

While we won’t dwell on this here, the queen is fed royal jelly beyond her third day as a larva, which is not the case for workers or drones.

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