A tale of two Queens

Two Queens
Two Queens

On the seventh of September 2014 I was called to a swarm of Bees in a very large Cedar Tree, the swarm was half way along a very thin branch and the owner did not want the tree cut in any way and it was not possible to shake the swarm down because of the proximity of a dividing wall, the bees would have landed half on the wall and the rest in the next garden. A thee stage scaffolding tower was built and a bait hive placed on the top, two weeks later the swarm was still there and did not look like moving, a week later a phone call announced the bees where in the box. In the evening I went to see what had happened, yes the bees were in the box. Now an Eighty year old man trying to get a brood box full of bees down a scaffolding tower was not a pretty sight but in the end we both arrived on terra firma at the same time and all intact.

The bees were hived in a national brood box and left to settle in, four days later on the 6th of November I inspected the bees and found three Queen cells on the first frame and a very dark Queen, I put the box together, the bees tore down two cells and one hatched, I thought that there was no way the hatched Queen would survive let alone mate. The swarm survived the winter and on first inspection I found the dark Queen on the second frame with brood so I put the hive together thinking how well they had done to survive the winter.

Two weeks later I asked Sue Bird if she would like to use the colony for her Beginner’s Class and on the Saturday afternoon Sue rang me to ask if I knew that the colony had two Queens a very dark one and a yellow one, she had marked the yellow Queen. I thought better get there quickly as they will not both be there for long, just how wrong can you be? I put the colony in a five frame Observation Hive and it came with me to schools and Bee talks in May and June.

By taking out frames of brood and replacing those with drawn comb enabled me to control the number of bees.  In Late June the Bee Inspector came to visit the Bees and said it was another thing to add to her list of unusual happenings. On the 30th July I found a Drone with deformed wing virus in the colony and decided to treat it with Apiguard alas when four days later I returned all the flying bee’s had absconded.  I had hoped to keep them going to the autumn to see if eventually one Queen proved dominant.

On the other hand I should listen to what I have been telling beginners for twenty years plus, always go into a hive with an open mind, to complete an inspection and that BEES DO NOT READ BOOKS.