A Roller Coaster Weekend

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So, it was quite the up and down weekend.

On Saturday, I went to check up on the girls and see if they had released Queen Vicky.  I stepped into my finest dress whites (aka the Hazmat Suit).  Out to the woods with my trusty tool kit I go.  I take the hive roof off and then the hive cover.  I slowly begin to review the top bars (“TB”) starting at the false back and TB 12 and working forward to TB 1.

So far, nothing.  I’m approaching TB 4, from which Queen Vicky’s cage was suspended.  I slowly move the TB and notice considerable “burr comb” attached to the cage.  I slowly pull up the TB and remove the cage.  My pulse quickens and my blood pressure rises.  Queen Vicky is still in her cage with her attendants.  Although the girls had begun the process of eating though the candy plug, they had not yet freed Queen Vicky.  I now had to make an important decision, to either (a) let her remain in the cage and let the girls free her, which would probably take another few days or (b) release her myself.

As is the story of beekeeping, ask the same question to 5 different beeks (short for beekeepers) and get 5 different answers.  One article I read said leave the queen in the cage for at least 7 days.  However, the procedures that came with my hive had said two to three days and then release the queen if necessary.

I decided to rescue the Queen!  Unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring the lance (i.e. the screw driver) and jaws of life (i.e. the pliers).  But fear not Queen Vicky, we summoned Squire Joe to quickly return to the stables Ii.e. the garage) and retrieve the necessary tools!

Upon receiving the tools from Squire Joe (who proceeded to THROW them to me), I gently pried up the screen cover.  My heart was beating in my throat.  How was I going to convince Queen Vicky to leave the sanctity of her tiny cage for the grandeur of her new castle?  I decided to dangle her cage back into the hive and try to gently shake her out.  After a few shakes, everyone seemed to be out of the cage.  I can only assume, hope, pray and cross my fingers that she landed gently in the hive.

I was incredibly nervous and apprehensive.  I hope I didn’t injury her.  Why couldn’t they have just already eaten through the plug so I wouldn’t have had to do that?

I then inspected the remaining TBs.  To my surprise, the girls had begun building comb on all four bars.  It is beautiful, pristine, white, perfectly formed combs.  Amazing.  I replace the TBs and close up the hive.

Upon returning to the stables (i.e. the garage), I inspect the burr comb the girls had built on Queen Vicky’s cage.  It also is beautiful, pristine, white and perfectly formed.

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I worry for the remainder of the day about Queen Vicky.  Please let her be ok… Please let her be ok.

On Sunday, I decide to go and just watch the girls.  See what’s going on in the kingdom.  And to my very pleasant surprise, there is quite a lot of activity!  There are even forager girls coming back with pollen!  This is Wonderful and I take it to be a positive sign that Queen Vicky has assumed her rightful reign.

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I also see girls “fanning”, which is either ventilating the hive or distributing the “smell” of the hive out into the yard, like a beacon, for the foraging girls.

I also observe BOTH of the bee dances!  The “figure 8” dance and the “circle” dance.  They both have specific meaning and communicate important information to the other girls such as the location of pollen or the location of water.

And I also see a few of the “drones”, which are the boy bees!  The are quite unusual with very large eyes and big fat barrel bodies!

So what started as a stressful downer Saturday ended up being a quite joyful and happy Sunday!

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2 responses »

  1. I’m so glad you’re sharing your stories and pictures! I love the close up of the bees. 🙂

  2. Because the bees are bringing in pollen, I’m guessing it means they assume they’re queen right (i.e. they accepted vicky already). So releasing her was more than likely the right thing to do. The bees only collect pollen if they have a queen because its used mostly for larvae rearing.
    I’m amazed how quickly they drew out that comb! You must have a major nectar flow going. My yes have never drawn comb out that fast. But I have a langstroth and they’re notoriously slow at drawing out comb in those.

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