A colony of bees may establish a functional hive with comb in about a month, depending on factors such as species, colony size and availability of food. However a hive is never truly finished, and bees continue to expand the hive and its food stores until winter.
An average bee colony can contain up to 50,000 individual bees at the height of the season. In a new hive's second year, or sooner if the hive is overcrowded, a colony of bees usually swarms. During swarming, over half of the worker bees, along with the existing queen, leave their hive to establish a new, separate colony in a different location.