"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Bee-Man Speaks

My beekeeping mentor called me after my frantic e-mail asking what I should do about the missing queen and the developing queen cells in my hive #1. It wasn't what I thought. He said I should wait - if they are making queen cells, then yes, my queen is dead or gone. Soon, though, one of the queen cells will hatch and that queen will go around and kill all the other developing queens. Then she will take her "maiden flight."

Before an old queen dies, or departs to start another hive, she lays an egg in a large queen cell. The nurse bees feed the larva a diet of only royal jelley, or bee's milk, made from a gland on their heads. In only 16 days a new queen emerges. She seeks out and destroys any rival queens, because there can be only one queen per colony.
Queen bee

10 days old, a new queen takes a high maiden flight, pursued by drones from nearby hives. In about 13 minutes, she mates with 7 or more of them, storing their sperm for the rest of her life of 2 years.

She produces chemical scents which regulate hive activity.

If my new queen successfully mates and returns to the hive, then there shouldn't be a problem and my hive will go on as before. But apparently, many queens don't make it back from their maiden flight. If that should happen, then I will need to either a) buy a new queen for $20, or b) combine my hives. Hives are combined by laying a couple layers of dampened newspaper on the top of one hive and then putting the second hive on top. By the time they chew through the newspaper they will have gotten used to each other's smell and chemically become one hive.

I hope I don't have to do that, though. I hope my new queen lives!


Olive said...


Anonymous said...

You made me realize that my queen is due to die this year...fingers crossed for our new queens!

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I hope all goes well! I have always wanted bees. They are so fascinating! It is something we have thought about doing in the past few years, just no time for it, unfortunately.

polly's path said...

I am keeping my fingers crossed for you.

AnyEdge said...

It's good to be the Queen.