Not completely clear what you are asking Salty. But I think the rule of thumb "lifespan" of bees during a nectar flow is a reference to the moment they emerge from their cells until their deaths. I think a rough average during this time of year is between 34 and 42 days (5 to 6 weeks) in which they move from nurse to forager and all of the sub roles in between. If you want to tack on the pre-emergence portion of their life cycle to the definition of "lifespan", you would add 21 days to that (3 weeks). Not sure this is what you were getting at though. Sorry if I have missed the mark of your question.
Day 1 egg
Day 3 1/2 larva
Day 9 capped larva (turns to puppae under capping) Day 21 emerged bee
Day 42 nurse duties complete, graduates to forager
Day 56 - 63 dead
Well I guess I I'm really saying the 5 week till death is more a rarity that the norm, if true at all. Look at a package, split, or a normal queen replacement. A mating nuc with a failed queen return would be down to almost nothing at the 2nd try, let alone a 3rd, yet they survive. There is shrinkage but not anything like a 5 week lifespan would create.
I am not in a warm place, in part I am wondering ,if well inland and well warmer, there is a much bigger shrinkage than I see here.
I see the belief often, never seen; "This is the study."
The lifespan first was determined by beekeeper observations that when a frame of emerging brood from an Italian queen was placed in a colony of dark bees the light colored bees would be seen for about 6 weeks, then they were no longer seen. Bees raised at different times in the season live longer or shorter times based on the amount and type of work they do. If you want study names, then you need to do a search on honey bee lifespans.
Part of the issue of why bees normally only live 56-63 days is the reason why they die. It is also in part the reason why they live much longer in the winter. I have been told (no proof offered) that the primary reason for death is that the foragers wings get so beat up through flying that they cannot fly anymore. Once they cannot fly, they cannot make it back to the hive and starve to death or succumb to the weather. Winter bees are not flying and stay at home. Thus, they get to live much longer. There are other factors with winter bees as well but that is beyond this topic. Laying worker hives have bees that revert from foraging or never start foraging duties and stay in the hive to tend the brood. Since they are not flying, their lives are extended.
The information above about how foragers die may be an old beekeepers tale I was told years ago but it has always sounded logical to me. If you have a better answer, please feel free to correct my reply!
Saltybee, the line was not meant for you but all the other beekeepers out there who might have a different answer. I really am not sure my answer is factual but I have heard it from several sources I respect. Seattle is just a bit farther north than you are and our summer days can be as long as 16 hours. The bees get a really good workout in the summer. The math pretty much matches up with hive populations too. If the queen is laying 1500 eggs per day and the every bee lived for exactly 35 days after hatching, the hive population would be a constant 52,500. If they lived for 45 days after hatching, the population would climb to 67,500. That is a pretty big hive. When you think about what the hive population is and the rate the queen lays, you get a pretty good idea of how long the foragers are living.
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