URBAN BEES: REQUEENING
Since we captured that feral freebee swarm back in April 2007, we've taken a pretty relaxed approach to urban beekeeping by letting the bees, well just "bee." However, we are constantly checking the health of the bees and hives. Just recently, we noticed that one of the hives was different. Yes, the hive was alive and healthy, but something was 'off'.
Sometimes, different is better but this one queen was acting strangely and from past experience, you could tell something was not exactly right. As an experienced beekeeper, you are looking for queens that have 'the it factor.' Well, this one didn't have 'it.' Quite hard to explain 'it' in writing. Honey bee queens set the tone for the rest of the colony. A 'well mannered' queen is calm and has a great brood pattern and and this one was quite the opposite. So she needed to be dethroned.
So the hard (sad) decision was made to re-queen; Beekeeper D killed one old queen. It was a tough thing to do.
In addition, we were planning to split one of the hives and introduce a new queen to our urban honey bee collection.
I have been looking for some natural survivor queens and after weeks of research, I found a couple of queens that hadn't been chemically raised and/or artificially inseminated. The new queens arrived alive and well and we were off to introduce them. Beekeeper D has done this many times since he started keeping bees 35 years ago. The only difference was the price for new queens had increased.
To make a long story short, we later followed up and checked in to see how New Queen #1 (the re-queened hive) and the New Queen #2 (the split) were progressing. #2 had settled right in with her bees and was looking nice and pretty. However, hard to explain in writing, but something was much different with the re-queened hive and #1. Maybe she needed more time? We'll patiently give her some more time to get acclimated.
After leaving the bees, well, be(!) we came back later checked back again to see how it was going. The #2 queen hive was hopping with bees and honey and now needed more space! Sweet!
Time to check in on Queen #1 to she how she is doing... well, we couldn't find her!!!!!!! Where did she go? A lot of questions.... so we went through the frames again looking and looking.... still no luck. Yikes, what had happened to queen #1?????
We didn't give up hope and were still looking, hoping to find her, now checking the sides, bottom of the hive box..... then I suddenly noticed two bees fighting on the floor of the hive.....
What's going on with you two?
This one aggressive bee was fighting some other bee in a WWF smackdown headlock, a thrilla in manilla fight, a rumble in the jungle moment.....
Hey, wow, look it is Queen #1 in a life and death battle with some other bee -- you can't do that to our queen!!
Beekeeper D quickly goes to the queen's rescue with his trusty hive tool, and tries to kill the rogue bee... but how can you when the two are rumbling around the bottom? Very carefully, with one quick swipe of his hive tool, Beekeeper D rescued queen #1 and the rogue met her fate. Yeah!
You can imagine our surprise when we discovered the rogue bee was actually another queen bee!! Where in the world did she some from?? (Like I said before, we had removed and killed one old queen before introducing the new one.) Possibly some wild queen moved in? Or was there 2 queens in the hive originally? I guess we'll never know....
Sis told me that we should have taken some exciting "play by play" pics. Of course, it's impossible to take pics when totally focused on saving your 'baby.'
Just yesterday, we went into the (now nicknamed 'Red Cross hospital') hive to check out the recovering queen #1.....
Good news - she's (still) alive and well and laying!
Don't you just love happy endings? I certainly do.
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