Live in large perennial colonies, consisting of a queen and up to 50,000 or more worker bees. All the nest building and food gathering is done by the workers; the queen remains in the nest (or hive) throughout her life, continuously laying eggs, and is tended and fed by the workers. New queens and drones are produced from time to time, usually when the colony is about to swarm or when the resident queen is failing and about to die. In the latter case, after mating with a drone, one of the new queens will take over the colony. Swarming occurs when the old queen or one of her new rivals take off with a swarm of workers to start another colony. Queen bees live for several years, but the drones and workers are short-lived. Summer workers rarely live for more than a few weeks, although later-maturing individuals will survive through the winter. Drones usually die after mating, but in any event they are thrown out in autumn when the colony settles down to hibernate, and soon perish.