The two paragraphs that follow are a mixture of information due
to David H. Headrick and myself. Those that are further down the page
are entirely my fault.
Fecundity of Honey Bee Queens
The numbers of eggs produced by a female is referred to as
her fecundity. Most insects produce from 50 to several hundred eggs
during their lifetime. Fecundity is probably greatest in social
insects. The honeybee, Apis mellifera L., can produce about 220,000
eggs during a 12 month period. This translates into 602 eggs per day,
25 eggs per hour or an egg laid every 144 seconds. These figures are
misleading as they are averages that do not take into consideration
seasonal variation and the rise and decline of population. In a
rising population leading up to midsummer the rate may be 3000 eggs
per day and I have heard claims for up to 5000 per day.
For comparison... The termite, Kalotermes flavicollis, has
been estimated to lay 10 million eggs per year, or an incredible
27,400 eggs per day. Non-social insects typically lay fewer eggs, but
the number can be substantial, up to several thousand.
Egg laying rates are particularly important in honey bees
and have a profound effect on
Population Dynamics and then the
Longevity of the individual
insects comes into the equation. Egg laying frequency, and
particularly the maximum rate of egg laying are important in
assessing a race or strain's ability to respond to rapid changes in
weather or flora.
Far too much emphasis has in the past been placed on sheer
numbers, without considering the racial differences involved. This has
resulted in bees being selected for thier ability to produce a large
workforce... Many Italian derivatives exhibit huge numbers, but this
is of no use if they do not show sufficient industry in gathering
nectar, unless it is especially warm and sunny.
Written... 18 June 2001
Ammended... 09 March 2002