The queen is dead, long live the queen

So, what was expected happened. Our 8 frame hive, which had been struggling the entire year, finally gave up the ghost. The combination of cold weather, fairly heavy varroa infestation, and a poorly producing queen made for a poor hive. That being said, our 10 frame hive is doing great, and we’re confident it will survive the winter.

Here are some pictures. We took one frame from the dead hive and filtered it into honey using Jeff Miller’s video as a guide, and got a couple of jars of honey. It tastes absolutely fantastic. Very floral and nuanced. We kept the other full frames for the split we’re planning to do with a hygienic queen in the Spring.

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About vverweij12

I am an emerging beekeeper in Northern Virginia, starting to learn about helping these wonderful creatures thrive in our back yard.
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7 Responses to The queen is dead, long live the queen

  1. Justin says:

    So what happens to the other bees when the queen dies? Do they all commit bee seppuku? DO they roam free, like little ronin bees, righting wrongs throughout the land?

    …are they in the honey?

    • vverweij says:

      It depends. If the hive is strong enough, and they have larvae less than 3 days old, they can raise a virgin queen, who can then go out on a mating flight, and hopefully come back with enough Manjuice to restart the hive. This slows down the hive, and makes it vulnerable to decline, but it’s the best possible situation, besides reintroducing a queen of your own.

      The other is that one of the ladies will decide to become a queen herself. Technically all of the workers have reproductive organs, so they can decide to start laying eggs. The problem with this is, though, that they will all be male, as only the fertilized eggs become workers and queens, so this is pretty useless, because drones (the males) are only for reproduction (yes, the jokes abound).

      In the latter case, either the hive dies, or you intervene. You can put those bees with another hive, with some short introduction, to strengthen that one, or you can decide to get a new queen to replace the dead one.

  2. K Perry says:

    Fascinating. Does the honey taste so good because it’s from “free range” bees who have a wide variety of things to munch on, rather than a monoculture?

    • vverweij says:

      Not necessarily. Urban trees such as Tree of Heaven and other species tend to give a really terrible flavor to honey. Also, there’s a rhodedendron bush nearby which can inflict both bad flavor And hallucinogenic qualities to the honey. The bees tend to avoid the latter, though, so it’s all good. I think it’s more that the area they’re in has some fantastic maples and tuliptrees, and the immediately accessible nectar source is herbs and vegetables, which tend to be pretty tasty.

      • Chelsie Bee says:

        WRONG VINCENT. The AWESOME and AMAZING flavor of our honey is directly correlated to our AWESOME and AMAZING beekeeping abilities.

  3. Jeff Miller says:

    Thanks for the Jeff Miller shout out!

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