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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How is it decided which bees will become nurse bees, field bees and guard bees? Is there an HR bee that gives out the assignments or something? :p
 

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they age

They start as nurse bees, work to cleaners, then to security and then foragers then die.
There might be another job or two but you get the idea.

This is why varroa control or monitoring is so crutial. If you loose a round of bees, it throws out the balance of the hive
 

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its a cast system when born they clean out the comb cells then they nurse the larva and cap the brood and keep it warm. then they take thier orination flight do guard duty then forage and die. so as the age they change jobs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Interesting! Is there a general time frame that they progress through each job? If summer bees only live around 6 weeks do they spend a week or two in each job or does it vary?
 

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it all has to do with a smell put off by the diffrent stages of brood. if there is a diffrent need in the hive there will be more of each "job" from time to time. if the hive needs pollen thay get it, if the hive needs nectar thay get it, if there needs to be more nurse bees thay do it. there was a good artical on this subject in last months or the month before abj or beeculture. scientst have even seen foragers revert back to house bees if the need arose
 

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Some times the time table to a forager gets moved up. This happens if there is a drop in the number of foragers. When this happens the life span of the bee is shortened.

They move up as the need arises
honeyshack and 11x are correct - this is a biological process termed, "recruitment" (and it is not restricted to bees - for example, some colonial nesting birds, such as beeeaters, recruit recently fledged siblings to assist in raising the new clutch - instead of reproducing themselves).

My understanding is that, among bees, it is a result of some combination of age and the physiological conditions within the hive.

Randy Oliver wrote an interesting piece a couple of months ago on how bees are recruited to bringing in more water when the hive requires. Recruitment and maintaining individuals as water foragers is, in part, dependent upon unloading times at the hive entrance.

Apparently, if hive demands for a particular task exceed the available work force (in age class), other nearby age classes are recruited to that task. Once the 'need' is satisfied, the bees resume their 'age specific' tasks once again.

As they progress in age though, it is thought that they reach points physiologically whereby it is more difficult for them to perform certain tasks any longer, such as foragers reverting to some house bee tasks - although, as 11x says - it does happen.

This is a fairly active area of bee research though - so who knows what might be learned about it in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the responses! These little creatures really are quite amazing. I'm quite new to bee keeping and still in the fascination stage (not sure if that will ever change!)

It seems they start working the day they are born and I doubt they take a day off until the day they die... that's quite a work ethic!

Not sure why I didn't get into this sooner but I feel blessed that I have found this wonderful hobby now. Thanks to all the knowledgeable folks here who generously share their knowledge and experience with newbee's like myself!
 

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11X, NDnewbeek. That's interesting info. I was always taught that hive tasks where age specific, that as bees advanced in age they just started doing different tasks. But overtime I figured out that there must be more to it than that, otherwise how does a package of bees or a wild swarm create a new hive from scratch? Obviously they must able to revert back to earlier tasks based on the demands of the hive?
 
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