A beautiful queen bee!

I was poking around in the beehives the other day and was able to get a few cool pics.  Mainly, I wanted to check on the new packages of bees I got awhile back.  I just took the opportunity to look in on all of the bees as a beekeeper typically does in Spring.

Some beekeepers rarely see their queens, but I think that is usually due to inexperience and sometimes laziness.  I don’t always find my queen but I always look for evidence she is healthy (that is, I look for freshly laid eggs).  I can find her any time I want though.  All beekeepers should spend the time to figure out how to scan frames of bees to find a queen.  She moves differently than the other bees and the other bees usually give her some room as well.

I sometimes get my queens marked.  The beekeeper who sells queens can mark an ink dot on the thorax of the queen to make her easier to see.  The color of the dot coincides with the year she was born.  In my experience, the mark tends to wear off pretty quickly but it only costs a buck or two.  I think this marking is cool since it is heart shaped!

A queen bee
The queen and her attendants

So, here are some pics I got of one of my beautiful queens, new last Fall.   You can see her abdomen is significantly larger than the female worker bees around her.  Notice how the workers sort of make a circle around her, all facing her ready to serve at her beck and call…or something like that.

A queen bee and her attendants...with varroa mite
Notice the rust colored spot on the worker at 11 o’clock above the queen…that’s a varroa mite that will eventually kill that worker bee…and the hive if allowed to multiply

There is a lot of other stuff to see in the hive too (click the pics to enlarge if you want to see better). The bright yellow stuff is fresh pollen. There is a lot this year and the hive is full of different colors. The brown coverings on some of the honeycomb are covering brood…baby bees pupating into worker bees. Towards the top, you can see white horseshoe shaped larva.  There are several sizes representing various stages of development.  Female worker bees are in the larval stage for around 5 days.  After that, they pupate and turn into normal looking bees over the course of 13 or so days.  All told, a bee starts as an egg and 21 days later hatches into a worker bee, ready to begin duties in the hive.

I took some more pics that turned out pretty great so I’ll share some more in the next few days…it’s bee season after all!

4 thoughts on “A beautiful queen bee!

  1. I remember spending lots of time looking for queens and signs of a healthy hive. My parents usually got theirs marked which made it easier. We also replaced queens fairly regularly so we had to find the old queens to dispatch before putting in new queens!

  2. Ed – It’s hard for me to find anything more peaceful than watching the bees come and go on a nice spring day when they are busy collecting nectar and pollen…

    Ron – Thanks! All with my phone which esp surprises me…must be my incredible skill… 😉

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