The Queen Bee is the heart of the hive, and the irony is that she works just as hard as each of her worker bees. There is no rest or life of luxury for her, she is not pampered, nor does she lounge around the beehive letting others do all work. If she survives her one mating trip, she spends the rest of her life laying up to 2,000 eggs every day.
Exciting Arrival of the New Queen Bee
This is a precious camera capture by The Homestead in April 2020, of the moment when worker bees help their new virgin Queen Bee emerge from her queen cell. Imagine the excitement in the hive as the new queen appears in their lives. They may be wondering if she will be a kind queen or hard to please… how will she reign the colony?
This is the cutest video and only 5:25-minutes long. You can literally feel the excitement of these ‘ladies in waiting’ towards the virgin queen as she appears briefly in the top opening and then disappears again back into her queen cell. They gather around, quivering with delight, waiting for her to step out. But she’s got a job to do before she does anything else… she must seek out all the other queen cells and kill off her competitors before they can emerge.
Queens Born in Captivity to Queen Raisers
Now here’s another short 2:48-minute video by Arvin Pierce, taken nine years ago, of two virgin queen bees emerging and being immediately captured between two human fingers. Perhaps this is quite natural to them, but the first thing I wondered, since scent is so important to bees, is does it dilute her scent when human fingers totally enclose her body the moment she leaves her queen cell? Will this ultimately affect her colony?
Assuming here that since this is a human who is raising queens, he wants to collect them and isolate them in holding cells before they can kill other queens that would be competition for them, since that would destroy his business by a large percentage. But what effect does this have on the virgin queen, who is genetically programmed to kill her unborn competitors as her first task when she emerges? Has any research been done on this?
How to Know if Your Virgin Queen Has Already Mated
Here’s an 8:12-minutes video by Barnyard Bees, about how to tell quickly if a virgin queen has already mated or not.
New unmated queens can be very shy and hide beneath their worker bees. Sometimes mated queens don’t return to the hive because there are a lot of challenges out there, like purple martins. She might also have entered the wrong hive and been killed by worker bees that picked up her scent and decided she was a threat. When she returns from a mating flight, she brings a whole lot of bees with her. You can tell if she is mated by the population of the hive… between the new comers and her hatched eggs, how many more bees are in the hive now than when you first filled it with bees?
All About Queen Bees… Why Her and Not Her Sister?
This 3:58-minute video by SciShow shows you how a bee becomes queen.
Royal Jelly is a bee super-food that plays a big role in queen-making. Extremely high in building blocks and acting like a super supplement, it triggers development of ovaries which worker bees don’t have. Maybe it isn’t random, there may be a tiny genetic difference that plays a role in who gets a chance to be queen. We just don't know a whole lot about it yet.
Here’s to the Queen Bee… she is the heartbeat of the hive… she is the creator of life and brings order to the structure… she is the one all other bees look to for their cues.
Happy weekend, wherever you are in the world. Stay safe, BEE responsible and enjoy some honey--sourced from your local beekeeper if possible.