This week I want to talk about bee craziness.
Last night I was up at 3am, my mind revved up on anxiety, trying to sort out my bee problems. The hives have moved full gear into swarm season as we are in a huge nectar and pollen flow. That means they are throwing out swarm cells, also known as queen cells, so that 1/2 the hive can fly away with the old queen.
So, noticing this trend, I decided to start dividing and splitting them for new hives before they swarmed on me.
That’s when the trouble began….
As I proceeded to move queen #1 to a new location with some of her entourage, in my haste, I accidentally picked up queen #2 and dropped her into the yarrow bushes. I never did see that one again.
With one queen moved out, and another queen lost, the girls went into high speed—building even more queen cells. This time Emergency Cells——-a particular kind of Queen Cell which protrudes straight off the middle of the comb. It is saved for purposes of: “O NO! We are now leaderless!”.
Between the two hives, I found about 10 queen cells at last count.That’s alot of queens waiting to hatch. I am haunted by all those queens running around, fighting and stinging each other to death until the strongest one wins.
To boot, I thought I lost queen #1 when i went to open up her new palace and see how she was doing. Things looked rather miserable in there, with very few workers and no sign of Ms. Queen. I figured she had not liked her new digs and absconded with most of her workers to an unknown destination.
So I decided to combine this now seemingly queen less hive with a third hive, freshly built. This hive was also building queen cells—make that 12 queen cells all told—between three hives.
Surprise! When I went to check on them days later, it looked like queen #1 had resurrected in Hive #3. That doesn’t bode well if the hive is building a new queen cell. The hive will ball her up and kill her for their allegiance to their own freshly minted in-house queen.
I’ve created a monster. No wonder I’m having sleepless nights.
Ridiculous, you might say. I agree. I definitely don’t want to lose sleep over a bunch of buzzing insects.
But I do want to do right by them. I feel responsible.
So, I did what I should always do in my life when I am feeling overwhelmed.
Reach out to others. Keep on calling until I find someone who’s available to help.
I finally was able to find someone. T. J., our elder on the beekeeper block here in Albuquerque. Grandfatherly and kind, full of wisdom and gentleness with bees, he listened closely, asked a few questions and then reassured me that I wasn’t a terrible person or failure of a beekeeper. The bees are just doing their thing. I had a few options. It was up to me how I wanted to proceed.
I came away, newly encouraged, empowered, feeling a deeper sense of peace and calm, and clarity about what I needed to do to make sure the hives would eventually be “Queen-right” again.
Faith. I needed that. A lesson for all of life.
Thank you T.J.
NEXT WEEK: a bee photoshoot so you can see some of my magnificent girls, beautifully filmed by Ralph Lind.