Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day #22 Bee Queen Wings

It's (relatively - if you're an experienced beekeeper) easy to spot the queen. She's the one with the short wings. Not really. They're the same size as the wings of the workers, but her abdomen is a great deal longer than theirs, so her wings just look shorter.

Her first few flights allow her to orient herself to the hive so she can find her way back to it. Then she takes off to the drone-gathering place. Don't ask me how she knows where that is - it probably has something to do with smell, but nobody seems to know for sure. After she's mated and returned to the hive, the workers start feeding her lots of good bee food, and her abdomen increases greatly in size. As well it should, since she's going to be laying anywhere up to 2,500 eggs a day for the rest of the season, and for two, three, or even four years after that.

She'll never use her wings for much, unless the hive has to swarm. If the workers decide to leave the hive, they stop feeding her as much, so she'll slim down to a weight where her wings can support her. When she's slender enough, half the worker bees in the hive leave, enticing her along in some magical unknown bee language. They all go find another place to live, and the remaining workers get busy on the queen cells they've built up around some regular old eggs. By stuffing those cells with Royal Jelly, they actually create a new queen.

And you thought the queen was in charge????  Nope!

BEEattitude for Day # 22:
       Blessed are those who tread the ground lightly, for they shall not hurt our food sources.

One thing I’m grateful for right now:
       Smiles and hugs from my grandchildren.


AggiePete said...

I love the 'queen bee' description! Good night that could be me ... short 'wings' and bigger tummy! Ha!

Fran Stewart said...

Many of us could say the same thing!