Basic honey bee biology: a beginner’s quiz

After my last two quizzes, I got requests for something easier. So I put together this quiz which emphasizes basic honey bee biology and beginning beekeeping. It’s not drop-dead easy, but it’s not nearly as technical as the last two. As with the other quizzes, you need to answer all the questions before the results are revealed. Just press submit to see how you did. I collect no personal information, although I do get statistics on the results. Also, you can still leave comments below.

The other quizzes are still around, if you haven’t tried them:

A honey bee drone quiz
Sexy legs and amazing feets: the honey bee legs quiz

Beginner's Bee Biology


What is the scientific name for the European honey bee?


To what order of insects does a honey bee belong?


How many wings do honey bees have?


From first to last, what are the four life stages of a honey bee?


How many types of adult bee are found within a colony?


How many major body segments does a bee have?


How many eyes does a bee have?


What is the average lifespan of a worker bee in spring and summer?


Because of warm temperatures, honey bee workers live longer in the summer than in the winter.


In comparison to female bees, a drone has how many chromosomes?


From egg to adult, which bees develop fastest?


To which major bee segment are the legs and wings attached?


A queen bee mates many times. What is the scientific name of this trait?


Approximately how wide is bee space?


What is currently the greatest threat to honey bee health?


A bee colony is made up of a number of subfamilies. The bees within subfamilies are more closely related to each other than to bees in other subfamilies. What determines the number of subfamilies in a colony?


What is the purpose of swarming?


What is the approximate temperature of a brood nest when brood are present?


Approximately how long does it take a honey bee egg to hatch into a larva?


Which is the most accurate statement?

A quiz on basic honey bee biology for beginners.

Here is a quiz on basic honey bee biology for beginners. © Rusty Burlew.

Honey Bee Suite


  • 75%. Once I got the answers, I was disappointed because I realized I did know the right answer, but didn’t think long enough. Oh well, I’ll not miss them again! Q7 answer really messes with my head! Option #2 on Q13 made me laugh…not sure why. 🙂

  • Well, I whined that the previous quiz was too hard, so I better not complain that this one was too easy. I’ll just boast about my perfect score. (If only I had a perfect score at real world beekeeping.)

    I always enjoy your writing, and yesterday I saw worker brood in all four of my new colonies, so all’s right with the world.

  • Hi Rusty,

    Thanks for the quiz, it’s nice for us newbees to do well on the basics. Mea Culpa on the colony/hive distinction, I will not make that mistake again when posting going forward.

    Oh, one point on the most dangerous threat … some might say the neonictinoid threat is quickly proving to be very threatening to bee survival worldwide. Perhaps a worthy blog topic summarizing the latest research findings?

  • Thank you for being there and sharing your passion for these beautiful creations. I attend many classes on honeybees and am sadden, at times. on the material being taught to these new beekeepers. I asked one facilitator why they didn’t teach deeper and was told there was too much information to expect a new beekeeper to learn therefore they had to “dumb” it down so they would stay in class. Sad and am sure this is a major reason our bees are dying. Thanks again for the enlightening information.

  • I’m a pre-beginner: I don’t have bees, but I’m spending this summer studying about them so that I can get started next spring – unless a swarm happens to find my trap, in which case I’ll have to accelerate my learning process. I scored 90%. I missed the order to which bees belong, and which develops fastest. I think if I actually had bees, I probably would have gotten the development order.

  • Thanks for an easier quiz! I scored 95% because I forgot the measurement for bee space so I guessed:)

  • Hi Rusty, I was just thinking again about Q1. Apis mellifera (honey bearing bee) has been the accepted name for the European honey bee for 250 odd years but mellifica (honey making) could in fact be more accurate as the bee ‘bears’ nectar then makes it into honey in the hive? Dave Cushman said something called the ‘Principle of Priority’ prevented mellifica being used? I kinda like mellifica, do you have a view?

    • Ray,

      That’s all correct. Linnaeus wanted to change it when he realized his error, but the principle of priority prevented him from doing so. I like Apis mellifica better because it makes more sense.

  • Hi.

    Worker bees live 4-6 weeks *as an adult.*

    If you include the time as an egg, larva & pupa then you can add another 3 weeks on to that.

    (sorry but that 5% is getting to me 😀 )

    • Mike,

      So let me ask you a question. When you consider your age, do you add an extra nine months?

  • Great quiz, Rusty – and I need to get that Bee Life Cycle chart back from my neighbor.

    Re: Debby’s question, wow, new info! what exactly is the mechanism by which eggs are fertilized? I do know the queen, upon mating, retains sperm in an organ called a spermatheca. Does she release sperm as each egg is laid or at some earlier point? Thanks!

    Sharing this with some very enthusiastic new (as of a swarm I caught Wednesday) beekeepers!
    Corinth, KY

    • Nancy,

      I don’t know how it physically works, but what you say is correct. As each egg passes through the queen’s reproductive system, sperm can be released from the spermatheca or not. Pretty tricky.

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