Monday, May 30, 2011

Day #230 Marked Queens

First I have to let you know that my queen is NOT marked.

That said, this is the marvelous system that was devised years ago by people who needed to keep their queens straight.

Professional beekeepers and bee researchers need to keep track of which queen is which. As I’ve mentioned before, queens can live four or five years, laying anywhere from a thousand to 2,500 eggs every single day during the spring and summer. They may take the winter off, but still, that’s a LOT of eggs.

What happens, though, as a queen ages? Her egg-laying may taper off so much that the workers feel the health of the hive is endangered. If that happens, you can bet your last honey drop that they’re going to replace her by creating a few new queens. Either the newly-hatched queen kills off the old one, or the workers ball the old queen, suffocating her by enclosing her in a tight cluster of bee-bodies.

So, imagine you’re a commercial beekeeper opening a five-year-old hive in the spring. The queen you see may be at the end of her life-cycle. On the other hand, she may be a brand-new queen. How are you going to tell?

You’ll have marked your old queen with a color that indicates which year she began her life. Here are the colors, followed by the ending number of the year in which the queen was hatched:

o   White/Gray – 1 or 6
o   Yellow – 2 or a 7
o   Red – 3 or 8.
o   Green – 4 or 9.
o   Blue – 5 or 0.

I don’t plan to mark my queens. I should think a spot of paint would be irritating to them. I’ve read that the bees don’t even notice. Well, for heaven’s sake, how on earth would anybody know what a queen bee is thinking? I’d like to trust the worker bees to know what’s best for their hive. They don’t need paint to know who’s who.

BEEattitude for Day # 230:
       Blessed are those who leave us to our own devices, for we shall grow happily and healthily.

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1 comment:

Sopralto said...

Oh, Fran, I am so enjoying reading your blog! And your Beeattitudes are so wonderful. They just make me smile. Thanks so much for putting your thoughts out there; a wordsmith queen bee indeed!