Hey bees, you have a traitor in your midst, someone is trying to upset the social order.
We checked on Colony 4 at the weekend – this is an offshoot of Colony 1 that I’ve been patiently waiting to reunite with its source for a few weeks now. There’s plenty of eggs and plenty of brood – both open so you can see the lovely little grubs and capped – which means the want some privacy as they do the whole metamorphosing into an actual bee business. The problem is that comb of brood doesn’t look right to me – the pattern is all patchy and the cells are uneven and lumpy, worse there are several eggs in some of the cells – and even several larvae. Any self respecting queen wouldn’t do such a thing.
What could be going on?
I’ve pulled the hive apart ( sting number 33, back of head ) – every frame has been taken out, inspected, shaken clean of bees and inspected again. Each corner, crack and secluded little retreat has been checked, rechecked and poked with a finger just to be sure.
There’s no queen. My little poster girl has gone. She must have died, kicked the bucket, she’s shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. She is an ex bee. A bloody expensive one at that, pedigree buckfast queens do not come cheap.
In the absence of an authority figure some of the workers have taken it upon themselves to have a bit of a cultural revolution – they’ve started laying eggs of their own. This is not a good situation for a hive as workers have never mated, they can only lay unfertilised eggs which means they can only produce drones – boy bees.
Male bees have their place – sperm has to come from somewhere and every queen needs have a damned good time before settling down to life as an egg laying machine – but they’re not much use for anything else. They can’t forage, they can’t even feed themselves, all they can do is consume food and wait for a chance to mate.
Something has to be done.
Luckily for me, my ex-queen did leave an heir – a daughter – we had our first glimpse of her this weekend – in hive 1.
She’s beautiful and more importantly she’s laying eggs – lots of them. A queen bee can drop up to 2000 eggs a day. The presence of a nice young fertile queen and oodles of fresh larvae desperate to be fed should be enough to distract the laying workers from their plans and bring the hive back into order and I’ll be back where I started – with two hives.
So again with the newspaper. Those bees get more time to read than I do.