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In need of royalty - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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In need of royalty [May. 5th, 2011|12:20 pm]
Zoethe
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Today is sunny and calm, so we opened the hive for the first time and pulled the frames.

Which means lifting bee-covered frames out of the hive box and getting up close and personal with the bees. To say that I was a bit nervous about it is severe understatement. But it turns out that the actual handling of the frames went off without incident. You can watch me do this on Ferrett's journal. You can also be amused by Ferrett, standing back with the camera, admonishing me to "just go ahead and take out the next one," nevermind the bees where I want to lift it. And then admire that, showing great self-restraint, I didn't sock him with the hive tool. The good news is that it all went very smoothly.

The bad news is that we may have a queen problem. When we bought our bees, the shop owner offered to substitute out a superior, Cordovan, queen for the one with which the bees would arrive. Only when we picked up our bees, there didn't appear to be a queen cage at all. The shop keeper said that there might be a queen cage in amongst all those roiling bees, but he wasn't looking for it. He provided us with a new queen and cage and said that if we found the old one, we should just do away with it.

Well, when Ferrett dumped the bees, he reported not seeing a queen cage. And when we checked the hive Tuesday, the Cordovan queen had made her escape. But today, when I moved one of the frames, a queen cage fell into the bottom of the hive, and sure enough, a live queen was still in that cage. She was alone in the cage (no attendants), but surrounded by other bees. We couldn't tell what they were trying to do: attend or attack?

We went through the rest of the frames and never found our other queen, so I suspect they never accepted her and killed her once she got out. So we decided to dump the other queen out of her cage and figured that either she was the accepted queen and would begin to function in the hive or the other queen actually was there and the bees would kill this one. Only Ferrett inadvertently dumped her into the bottom of the cage, which is a no-no because she's not supposed to be able to get back up from there. Only I looked down and saw her reach up and start climbing onto a frame, and then couldn't see her anymore but then thought I saw her walking toward the cluster of bees. So I think she's our queen and I think she's okay.

But I'm really not sure. There was certainly no brood and only a hint of any drawn comb, but it's early in the season. We have to give them a few more days and then we'll get back in there again.

The other interesting thing was that our trash collector came along while we were veiled and asked us what we were doing, so we took him to the back yard and introduced him to the bees - and explained to him that the ground nest he'd stepped on as a kid was not honeybees. He was aware of the bee shortage problems and after his initial fears were allayed said "This will be great for the flowers around here. Maybe everyone should be doing it." So I feel like we did a little bit of community service and public relations there.
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Comments:
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 05:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I was actually amazed at how calm I felt for most of it.

They can do both. They are very vicious with perceived intruders.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 06:21 pm (UTC)
Not with this. I know the feeling you're talking about, but I'm not having it here.
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2011-05-05 05:54 pm (UTC)
I wanted to reach through my monitor and smack him. So I too, admire your restraint, given the circumstances (and weapons at hand.)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 06:24 pm (UTC)
They are definitely a different coloration than we usually see, so that will be kind of cool!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 06:22 pm (UTC)
LOL! Love you, hon!!
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2011-05-05 06:25 pm (UTC)
Love you, too! :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 06:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, his "just go ahead!" wasn't terribly helpful!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 06:31 pm (UTC)
Particularly when I have to be concentrating on what's just in front of me!
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[User Picture]From: mishamish
2011-05-05 05:06 pm (UTC)
Reading these entries reminds me of the E. O. Wilson short "Trailhead." It's about ants, rather than bees, but it's RALLY similar. I highly recommend it! http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2010/01/25/100125fi_fiction_wilson
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 06:20 pm (UTC)
Very similar, actually!
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-05-05 07:50 pm (UTC)
which of course led me straight to that old horrible joke:

what happened when the pink panther stepped on an ant?

dead ant
dead ant
dead ant dead ant dead ant ...
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 09:56 pm (UTC)
GROAN!!!
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-05-06 03:15 am (UTC)
tee heee
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[User Picture]From: dana3
2011-05-05 06:30 pm (UTC)
I don't have an icon for "Holy cow, are you brave!! And where are your gloves?" ... so I'll have to settle for a pretty girl doing yoga on the beach, and a rousing BRAVA!!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 06:35 pm (UTC)
Working in gloves makes one more likely to crush bees or to drop things, so we are encouraged not to use them. It takes a bit of courage to reach in there and grab the frames, but it helped that the first few were fairly bee-less.

I did go for long sleeves, though!
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-05-05 07:52 pm (UTC)
you know come to think of it, now that i look back, i don't ever remember seeing the man i grew up next door to wear gloves around his beehives ... gods i miss him and his bees ... that was some fine honey! :) (and he was a wonderful, wonderful man, like a father to me)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 10:01 pm (UTC)
I hope we will have honey to share with our neighbors! The one next door who seemed a bit worried when we told them about our project has an aunt with an extensive bee yard, so when it turned out to be just one hive, he completely relaxed about it. We do have one cranky codger behind us who I worry will try to make trouble, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-05-06 03:16 am (UTC)
oh my! :( good luck!

i have very happy memories of climbing the hill to go to the house next door and asking jim for a pan of honey - my grandmother always sent me with a 13x9 pan for some reason. he would fill it full and make sure i left with a couple of combs - and a small one to suck on on the way back down the hill! :D
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-06 01:53 pm (UTC)
That's really cool.
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[User Picture]From: mariadkins
2011-05-06 03:13 pm (UTC)
he was a wonderful man.
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[User Picture]From: miintikwa
2011-05-05 09:40 pm (UTC)
You are SO brave. I don't even.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 10:02 pm (UTC)
It was less scary than I thought it would be.
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[User Picture]From: miintikwa
2011-05-06 01:04 am (UTC)
I am so impressed.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-05-05 11:28 pm (UTC)
Yay for B.P.R.!

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-05 11:44 pm (UTC)
Had a nice talk with the next door neighbor most exposed to them as well. Turns out his aunt has a large beeyard, which was what he was envisioning, so when he saw only one hive he was completely cool with it!
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[User Picture]From: chant_1
2011-05-06 02:51 pm (UTC)
This is fascinating stuff...I've occasionally thought about trying to keep bees, and who knows, maybe some day in the distant future...

But anyway, I love all the queen drama - it could almost be a novel. Keep us posted, please! : )
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-06 03:00 pm (UTC)
We're waiting until the end of the weekend to go back in, so I will report on our queen situation then.
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[User Picture]From: special_hypo_k
2011-05-06 10:25 pm (UTC)
I love winnie the pooh
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[User Picture]From: fitfool
2011-05-30 03:54 pm (UTC)
I love reading these bee stories. I hope your queen survives
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