You ever wondered how many eggs a queen bee lays per day? I think it’s a really good question considering the geometric growth that most beehives show.
One day you’ve got a few bees flying around and by the end of the week the air is thick with them!
That’s great, and we need all the bees we can get to help with pollination, but it can be a little unsettling. Anyway, just how many eggs does a queen bee lay each day?
A typical queen bee will lay between 1,000 and 2,000 eggs per day if she’s in peak health and during a highly productive time. Queen bees from some species might lay as many as 3,000 eggs per day.
I’ll tell you one thing, that is a truly unbelievable reproductive rate, and obviously why beehives grow so quickly in ideal conditions.
That being said, a queen bee isn’t a factory assembly line and there are many, many things that will determine how many eggs she lays and how quickly she can lay them.
Whether you are trying to plan an addition to your own bee farm or are just more interested in the reproductive life cycle of bees, read on.
Egg Production is Highly Variable Among Queens
The first thing you need to know about the egg-laying rate of queen bees is that it is highly variable.
Like I said above, a queen bee is not a factory assembly line that’s going to turn out a specific number of eggs, day in and day out…
Not hardly. Instead, the number of eggs a queen bee will lay will ramp up or slow down depending on her overall health, the resources available to the hive and the status of the colony.
There are all kinds of factors that can cause her to speed up or slow down accordingly, and we’ll talk about them below.
Time of Year Affects Egg Production
For starters, the time of year will dramatically affect the egg production of a queen.
Depending on the time of the year, she might be laying as quickly as she can, resources permitting, or she might even stop, not laying a single egg on any day.
Generally, the most productive time of the year is when the colony is closing in on the end of winter or going into early spring.
This is because all the bees are going to get ready to burst out of the starting gate and go gather up that pollen they need to make honey.
Assuming the hive is in good shape, a queen will lay as fast as she can and if she is healthy this is where you’ll see egg production numbers in the thousands, every day.
And the reverse is also true: As summer comes to a close and the colony enters the fall season, one with less blooming plants, egg production will slow down because they won’t have as many resources at hand to feed the young.
The queen will continue to lay through fall and even through most of winter, but she will lay far, far fewer than she is capable of during peak time.
Temperature and Weather Also Affects Egg Output
Something else that will definitely impact a queen directly is the weather. Like all animals, these need a specific temperature and humidity range in order to thrive.
If there’s an extreme temperature swing, high or low, or a drastic shift in humidity, the queen might be stressed or the hive might become disrupted.
Either eventuality will typically cause a queen to stumble and slow down her leg, and sometimes halt altogether for a period of time until things get back to normal.
Queens Won’t Lay as Many Eggs When Resources are Scarce
If the colony is struggling to provide enough resources, either to the queen herself or to the brooding young, the queen will slow down.
For starters, she has immense nutritional demands compared to the other bees both because of her substantially larger size and because of the fact that she is one of the hardest-working bees in the whole colony.
She may be a queen, but she still puts in work! The demands of egg production means that the queen has a small army of attendants that bring her food and feed her while she works.
If her food slows down, she slows down.
And, obviously, if the hive cannot furnish enough resources to either construct new cells for the laying of eggs in order to expand, or bring in enough food to feed the young, the queen will perceive this.
Then she will generally respond by slowing down her egg production to match or to give the workers time to get things back in order – hopefully!
A Sick or Injured Queen Won’t Lay as Fast
If a queen bee gets sick or injured, this will definitely slow down her laying. A queen carefully positions herself to properly deposit each and every egg into one of the prepared cells.
If she’s sick or hurt and physically slow down or loses coordination, this can dramatically impact the number of eggs she lays.
There are many natural diseases that can afflict bees, and sometimes successful attacks by rival colonies or other animals can injure the queen.
And, of course, exposure to pesticide residues and other chemicals can permanently injure a queen and reduce her laying capacity under all conditions.
Swarming Will Temporarily Halt Egg Laying
So as we’ve learned, queens can lay a lot of eggs. An awful lot of eggs! And under ideal conditions she can crank out a couple thousand brand new bees every single day. It’s easy to see how a hive could grow too large.
When this happens, the workers, collectively, will be able to discern this and then they will prompt the queen to swarm, meaning she will leave the hive while taking some of the bees with her to set up a new colony somewhere else.
To do this, the workers will deliberately stop feeding the queen. They do this so she can lose enough weight that she’ll be able to effectively fly.
During this time, the lack of food and the understanding that she’ll need to leave the hive will cause the queen to stop laying for several days.
Queens Usually Slow Down as They Age
Old age takes its toll on every living thing, bees included. Most queens only have a few good years of laying in them, and they typically slow down as they age.
Assuming she stays otherwise healthy, a queen might only have two to four good years of laying in her at most, and many queens are pretty much done and dried up after a season or two.
And after that her eggs will start to run out, slowing, turning to a trickle and then stopping.
When this happens, she’s typically done for as, we will learn…
A Queen’s Life Depends on Laying Lots of Healthy Eggs!
A queen doesn’t truly rule her hive. It is actually ruled by consensus of the workers, and if the workers should detect that a queen is sick, injured, old, or genetically no longer viable, they’ll depose her by killing her.
Then, hopefully, they will raise a new queen to replace her.
But, assuming this doesn’t happen once a queen slows down enough a beekeeper will typically cull her and deliberately replace her with an imported queen if the hive is incapable of raising a new one themselves.
That’s the circle of life, as sad as it is: the queen will only be allowed to live so long as she is useful for propagating the future of the colony!
How Can You Help Your Queen Lay the Most Eggs?
All you need to do to help your queen lay the most eggs during the season is to:
- keep the hive safe
- reduce the stress of the bees
- make sure they have plenty of diverse food sources
- keep the hive dry
- ensure that enough bees survive to help maintain the hive at around 95° Fahrenheit (35° Celsius)
Assuming you can do that, your queen will be cranking out eggs as quickly as possible as required, and all you’ll have to do is sit back and watch your hive grow!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.