Saturday, June 7, 2014

Wanna See What Royalty Looks Like?

So today we got to do our first inspection since releasing the queen into the hive.  I was so stressed out that I had a nightmare last night that all I saw flying in our yard were drones and the hive itself was being robbed.

[All drones is bad; you need the vast majority of a colony's population to be worker bees.  The drones are the males and only useful when a virgin queen needs to mate.  Robbing occurs when foreign bees or wasps smell the hive's honey and race in en force to steal it.  The hive's bees will fight the invaders to the death, leaving your colony very weak if you don't or can't move fast to help them.]

That didn't happen.  We did see a bunch of drone comb (capped cells that were shaped very bulbously, rather than flatish), which initially concerned us.  Until we got to frame 6.

On the 6th frame, we saw a lot of open cells filled with liquid, which Eric initially thought was honey.

And then he spotted her.

The queen!  She's honestly easy to spot right now, as most of our bees are still the original dark ones, and she's so light, we don't even need the green dot on her back yet.  But as her brood hatches, and their coloration will be more like hers, she'll be a little tougher, even though you can see the difference here.  She's much bigger than the workers, with no striping, and a very elongated abdomen.  That abdomen is like that because that's where she stores her eggs and the sperm from her bout of mating, whereas workers don't have the same needs.

What you're seeing happening here is that the workers surrounding her are attending to her and grooming her.  This is great behavior to see, especially since it's obvious they've taken to their new queen.  The biggest indicator of that is that she's alive.  But it's nice, for me, to see them caring for her as they should, since those are our original bees doing it, not her own brood.

So... what we initially thought was nothing more than honey, I'm now speculating is actually a frame full of royal jelly with eggs floating in it.  At least we hope so!  It seems reasonable, and eggs are really tiny and hard to see.  Next week will be the real telltale time, because by then we should see larvae and maybe even pupae.

Fingers crossed!

1 comment:

The Alchemist said...

Congratulations on your hive's health and growth. This was really fun to read, and very informative. Thank you for giving us a peek inside the hive. I look forward to reading more a bout your bee's progress.

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