The Canadian Entomologist


The Cocoon of the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera L.

S. C. Jaya1

a1 Department of Entomology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba


During cocoon construction the predominant movement made by larvae of the three honey bee castes is a forward somersault which is made dorsal side outermost. Worker, drone, and queen larvae complete one somersault in 52, 46 or 67 (at two different times), and 32 minutes respectively with the total number of somersaults made during cocoon construction being 27-37, 40-50, and 40-80 respectively; the larvae take 37, 54, and 30 hours respectively to complete their cocoons. Weight changes of larvae before and after the cocoons are made are given.

Worker and drone larvae build completely enclosed cocoons directly on the side walls and end walls of cells, but queen larvae leave spaces between the cappings and the cocoons and do not cover the bases of their cells with cocoon material.

Cocoons consist of silk gland secretion (in thin sheets and threads), a colourless material, a light yellow material, and a more solid brown material (faeces); the last three are discharged from the larval anus. When, how, and where these various secretions and excretions are placed in the cocoon, and their probable origins, are described. Possibly some brood food is incorporated into the cocoon but skin secretions or larval blood are not.

(Received November 14 1963)