2.5. Obtaining brood and adults of known age

The development of honey bees is divided between egg, larval and pupal stages. Only at the larval stage do immature bees grow, thanks to the abundant food provided by the nurse bees. Their weight increases by a factor of 1,500 during this stage. There are six moults during their development. The timing of moulting and the growth varies according to caste (worker or queen) and sex (drone or queen) of the individual, and to the lineage to which the honey bees of interest belong. Queen development (16 days) is faster than worker’s (21 days) and in turn worker development is faster than that of drones (24 days). Table 4 summarises the major events and developmental times for A. mellifera. Variations of a few hours in developmental time of the various stages can occur between individuals in a colony, but also between subspecies (Michelette and Soares, 1993; Allsopp 2006). For this reason the measurements given in the following methods are valid only for the subspecies or lineage they have been obtained for. Where known, the subspecies is indicated for relevance of use. When another subspecies is investigated and precise timing of developmental stages is needed, it is recommended to verify their timing, for which we give a method (section 2.5.1.1.).


Table 4.
Development time and events for workers, queens and drones of Apis mellifera (modified from Bertholf, 1925).

 

Workers

Queens

Drones

 

Day

Stages

Events

Stages

Events

Stages

Events

 

1

egg

 

egg

 

egg

 

 

2

 

 

 

 

3

hatching

hatching

hatching

 

4

1st larval instar

1st moult

1st larval instar

1st moult

1st larval instar

1st moult

 

5

2nd larval

2nd moult

2nd larval instar

2nd moult

2nd larval instar

2nd moult

 

6

3rd larval instar

3rd moult

3rd larval instar

3rd moult

3rd larval instar

3rd moult

 

7

4th larval instar

4th moult

4th larval instar

4th moult

4th larval instar

4th moult

 

 

 

8

5th larval instar

 

5th larval instar

 

5th larval instar

 

 

9

cell is capped

cell is capped

 

 

10

prepupa

 

prepupa

5th moult

cell is capped

 

11

5th moult

pupa

 

prepupa

 

 

12

pupa

 

 

 

 

13

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

5th moult

 

15

 

6th moult

pupa

 

 

16

 

imago

emergence

 

 

17

 

 

 

 

18

 

 

 

 

19

 

 

 

 

20

6th moult

 

 

 

21

imago

emergence

 

 

 

22

 

 

6th moult

 

23

 

 

imago

emergence

 

24

 

 

 

 

25 …

 

2.5.4. Recognising the age of larvae

2.5.7. Conclusion