The Queen is Dead, or Succession

Something I’ve never seen before in 6 years of beekeeping. I have top bar hives, and they stand about 18″ above the ground. Every winter a small pile of dead bees forms under the entrance to the hive. These are old bees that have died over the winter, and are removed from the hive by their colleagues for sanitary reasons. But today something bigger. The large bee on the right of this picture is a queen. The colony must have decided she was a bit long in the tooth and superceded her.

The slightly upsetting thing though is that her attendant bees … Workers that dedicate themselves to the queen’s wellbeing, are still crawling around and over her trying to get a response. It’s sad in a way, but the rest of the hive seems completely normal for this time of spring.

It always amazes me how a hive functions as a whole, but made up in thousands of individual little lives. Obviously the attendants are feeling rather shaken, despite the rest of the hive being fine!

So, life goes on into a new year. But part of me still feels sad for the passed year.. and her queen bee.

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