Last year one of beekeeper Karla’s three beehives, operated more as a science project than for food production, lost a queen. This would kill him because the queen is the only one to lay eggs and therefore to produce offspring. I got a new one from a supply company in Clayton. We were confined, but emergency travel was allowed. The new queen did well on the motorcycle trip to Baldwin. However, at the end of September, she abruptly left the Blue Hive with all her supporters.
Karla has figured out the reason for the Harley Queen’s departure. It turned out that the wax moths had invaded, soiled and vandalized the premises and preventing the bees from continuing their orderly life.
Bees recognize their hive by smell. Humans can more easily distinguish colors. The released blue boxes were thoroughly cleaned and protected against moths. Next door, a unit made of yellow boxes was busy and productive. A little further and higher off the ground to prevent moth infestation was Karla’s last experience in housing construction. It’s a huge bee condominium with multiple entrances, progressive space designs, and colorful comic book characters painted on the outside. Crowds of bees waited to pass inside their security checkpoints next to the Winnie the Pooh likeness.
To revive the blue beehive, Karla transferred a few frames of bees from the yellow unit to the blue one, making sure there were young baby cells on it. The worker bees would turn her into a new queen.
At the start of the summer of this year, many new bees would happily fly away and return to “blue” with bags full of pollen.
Sadly, in the overcrowded confusion of a thick pile of bees being relocated, the “Yellow Queen” also found herself in the Blue Hive. This put the resident workforce at “Yellow” in difficulty as they now found themselves without leadership. The occupation of yellow boxes has decreased. In June of this year, only a small contingent of bees from the yellow hive was still active.
This required another transplant, performed very carefully from Winnie the Pooh’s hive. The yellow boxes received baby cells and a set of blank frames. On July 4, the Beehive celebrated its own Independence Day when Karla spotted a young and beautiful queen inside. New bees are emerging now, flying off to work. Our learning experience about these incredibly sophisticated insects continues.
Rudi Kiefer, Ph.D., is Emeritus Professor of Physical Sciences at the University of Brenau. His column appears on Sundays and on gainesvilletimes.com.