Four distinct life cycle phases: egg, larva, pupa and adult.
Metamorphosis begins when the queen lays the egg. Eggs are tiny at 1.7mm long so are hard to spot. A single egg is laid in each cell, which is cleaned and prepared by worker bees. If the cell is not clean the queen will ignore it.
The queen lays different eggs depending on which bee will be raised; larger cells are kept for drones (males) so an unfertilised egg will be laid, and smaller cells will be worker bees (females) so fertilised eggs are laid.
The eggs are laid in an upright position at the bottom of the cell so are very hard to see with their diameter of 0.4mm.
Three days after the egg has been laid, it hatches into a larva (larvae plural). They are snowy white and resemble tiny grubs. They quickly grow, consuming up to 1300 meals a day, and shed their skin 5 times. They are fed royal jelly at first and are then weaned onto a mixture of honey and pollen.
Within 5 days they are 1570 times larger than their original size and are then covered with a porous wax seal by the worker bees. The larvae then spin a cocoon around their bodies.
Once fully grown, they are considered pupae. This is when they transform into adult bees and begin taking on the features. The eyes, legs and wings take shape. Coloration begins with the eyes, then fine hairs that cover the body develop. After 12 days, the now adult bee chews their way through the wax seal and leaves the cell.
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