The honeybee hive
A typical honeybee hive contains about 60,000 to 80,000 individuals of three different kinds: workers (also called foragers once they begin to leave the hive), drones, and a single queen. The queen bee has a somewhat larger abdomen than other bees and she can repeatedly sting without dying. She never leaves the hive to forage for nectar and honey and is fed and cared for by the worker bees in order to focus on her primary role, which is to lay eggs—up to 2000 per day. One of the rare occasions when queens leave their hive occurs early in life when they embark on mating flights in search of male bees (drones). After mating, a queen stores and selectively releases sperm from her spermatheca (a spherical organ in her abdomen approximately 1 mm in diameter) to fertilise eggs for the rest of her life. Unfertilised eggs develop into males—drones—and fertilised eggs produce either female workers or queens.
Worker bees live up to their name: working as cleaners, nurses, guards, foragers, providers, undertakers, air-traffic controllers and engineers. At various stages of their lives they muck out the hive, feed drones and other workers, groom and feed the queen, collect and store pollen and nectar, produce wax and honey, construct honeycomb (used to raise the young and store honey and pollen), dispose of dead bees, and keep the temperature of the hive at around 32–35 °C.
Compared with worker bees, male drone bees do not participate in any worker behaviours. They are fed by the workers, are unable to sting and have the sole purpose to mate with swarming queens in mid-flight. When the mating season is over and as winter approaches, drones are expelled from the hive and left to die.