Bees are holometabulous insects. This means that they undergo complete metamorphosis, passing through egg, larval, and pupal stages before emerging as an adult.
Eggs are elongate, white, gently curved, and have a soft membranous shell. In social species, eggs are not laid with any food as workers begin to feed larvae as soon as they hatch. In solitary species, eggs are laid upon or near a food source enclosed in a cell with the larvae.
Larvae are soft, whitish and grublike. They grow quickly, molting about four times as they mature. The honeybee has 5 larval instars (molts). Cleptoparasitic taxa hatch from the egg with a large sclerotized head and long curved mandibles, which they use to kill the host larvae or egg. They then begin to eat the hosts’ food source, and after the first molt take on the normal grublike appearance of other bee larvae. Apidae larvae are unable to defecate as there is no connection between the midgut and hindgut. In solitary bees, after the larval food source is gone the bee will defecate, and then almost immediately pupate. Many bee larvae spin silken cocoons for themselves.
Fertalized eggs develop into females while unfertalized eggs develop into males. After mating, the female stores the sperm in her spermatheca. Mating only one time will give her enough sperm for the rest of her life. As an egg pass down her oviduct, she controls whether it gets fertilized, by allowing whether or not sperm can exit the spermatheca as the egg passes.
For more information, see the information on their close relatives, ants and wasps (Hymenoptera).
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
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