The Buzz – Spring 2013

I’m one of fi040ve in my family.  Growing up, when we took a road trip to anywhere it was never a peaceful time for my mother.  A station wagon full of kids aggravating each other for the whole of the ride.   I was reminded of those memories this past week when our new bees arrived. 

Every year we order new packages of bees in anticipation we may lose some over the winter.  Our bees are shipped up from a bee farm in Georgia.  As we were getting them acclimated in their new home I was wondering what the trip had been like for this poor queen.  And thought of my mother and these family trips.045

I imagined this queen who is raised with all other queens in their own special hive.  Being groomed on how to be a queen.   Doted on all day, being fed royal jelly, having her stinger sharpened, giving directives, and not having to lift one single finger (or leg) for anything.  I envisioned it being like Wonder Women’s Paradise Island for honeybee queens.

Then all of a sudden their island is filled with smoke, confusion everywhere and each queen is snatched up, forced in a little wooden cage with a just a few of her servants and put into a box with 7 to 10 thousand new ‘common’ bees.  And these ‘common’ bees too have just been separated from their familiar colony and are in a strange place with a new queen.  There has to be confusion and stress everywhere.

This box of bees is then packed up onto a truck and makes the long trip up from Georgia to Connecticut.   For the whole ride this queen who was living the life of luxury minutes ago is now trapped with all these bees frantically trying to get to know her.  I just imagine a 20 hour car ride with a million questions!  Where we going?  Are we there yet?  I have to pee.  He’s poking me…..  We’ve all been there.049 

Once they make it to their new home, the new colony is still not completely familiar with each other.  This ‘cage’ the queen is in has a sugar plug at one end.  The purpose of this is to give the colony time to get acquainted to their new queen while they eat through the sugar to release her.  Personally, I think it’s more to give the queen time to get used to her new role and not high tail it out of there the second she has a chance! 

I also wondered… who thought of putting this queen in a cage?  And how many poor queens were devoured by their new colony before this experimental beekeeper figured out they need time to get used to each other?   

047The whole process is amazing to me.  From the creation of the colony to the maintenance of the health of the hive, how the colony works together, the honey collection process, every single bit of it.  And each year I continue to learn more and love to share!   More to come…..050

 

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