The lifecycle of a queen bee begins with her birth from a queen cup, which is a specially constructed cell. While in the cell, larvae are fed royal jelly until they eventually grow into queens. A queen measures approx. 0.78? and can live up to 7 years. Contrary to the belief that the queen bee reigns over her hive, her colony of up to 60,000 bees forms consensus through democratic processes.
Shortly after her birth, the queen bee flies away to mate with about 10-20 drones (male bees), who all die afterwards. She keeps their sperm in her spermatheca, a special organ for sperm preservation. Throughout her lifetime she ejects up to 2000 eggs a day. Fertilized eggs grow into worker bees, unfertilized eggs into drones.
If a queen bee is too old and no longer able to produce eggs, worker bees kill her by overheating (a kind of smothering). Afterwards, a new queen bee is raised.