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What is the difference between male and female bees?

What is the difference between male and female bees?

Bees do have genders. It is difficult to spot the difference between male and female bees but a key difference is in their role. This role also changes depending on the species. 

We typically call male bees, drones. They are developed from unfertilised eggs. 

Different roles:

The main role for the male bee is to mate with a queen bee. The male drone bees will wait in an area called the DCA: drone congregation areas. This is an area hive above ground where the drones and queen mate in flight. Hundreds and thousands of drone bees will participate in this competition for the queen bee. However, they do not fight each other to win her over- it is simply a competition on who can fly the closest to her. If the queen bee does not enter this area, she wont get noticed by the drones and will not be fertilised. 10 - 20 male drone bees will mate with one queen bee. 

Male bumble bees usually have less loyalty to their hive. They often leave their nest and never come back. On the other hand, female bees stay more loyal.

Female bees are more likely to mesmerize their journey to and from their usual hive and also to their favorite flowers. Male bees do also do this, but it is less common. After feeding on a newly discovered flower, he will fly away, then turn around to memorize it. The male bee will also memorize specific paths that female bumblebees often cross. He will then either wait around or lay out special pheromones that will attract females.

Another difference between the two is their diet. Male bees require lots of energy as they fly about, waiting for a queen to come by. As a result they go for plants with nectar, this gives bees more energy. Female bees gather both nectar and pollen.

Different anatomy:

The difference in anatomy between male and female can be hard to spot but there are in fact quite a lot of differences. 


Firstly, male bees are larger than female worker bees. Yet they are smaller than the queen bee. The male bee has larger eyes and therefore better eyesight. This is important because the male bee needs to spot the queen bee. 

For spotting the difference between bumblebees, it is a bit more challenging. The main ones are: male bumblebees do not have pollen baskets whereas females do, the male has 13 segments of his antennae, the female only has 12. The male has 13 segments on their abdomen and females only 12. 


The other main difference between male and female bees is that the male bees don't have STINGERS! Female bees need stingers as they use them to lay their eggs. Their whole reproductive system is being ripped out along with the stinger.

The last major difference between male and female bees is that the female tends to outlive the male bee. The male life span is up to 8 weeks, but they live a life that is more full of dangers than their female friends. For the honey bee, after mating with the queen, their drone’s penis and other tissue can be ripped off from their body. Similarly, female bees tend to discard a male bee if he doesn't mate.  They sadly get evicted from their hive in order to have enough food for the others bees throughout winter. 

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