2012-01-30 The Queen is dead. Long Live the Queen.

I came to work today to discover the queen bee I'd ordered 6 days ago in the letter box.  They had actually turned up. They were alive. Amazing. I'd ordered these a week ago as I thought that Metropolis was queenless. Yesterday, I found that it wasn't, fresh grubs had appeared, in worker cells. So I had a new queen in there, they had sorted themselves out, with no assistance from me. Then this one turned up, anyway. Sheesh. Two queens. Decision time. The one in the hive was an unknown quantity, the one that arrived by post was from a breeder.

So, I gave the newly arrived  queen and her escorts a drink (it's been a little warm lately...), then dashed home with them on the bike at  lunch-time to install her. She's a caucasian, a little different to the Italians I have ordered in the past. Russian accent. Apis Mellifera caucasica is supposed to be a gentle bee. 

This quote lifted from Heathmont Honeys website:
Originating from Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian Seas of Russia, these larger grey coloured bees are gentle to handle and very hard working. They are tolerant to a harsh winter environment, building up slowly during the spring and having a low inclination toward swarming. Caucasian bees are susceptible to diseases such as Nosema and produce more propolis than any other race.

They also have the longest tongues of all the bees, around 7.2mm. I checked.

Anyway, something different, we'll see how they go in the next year or so. I dont expect any honey until then, anyway.

Interesting thing about introducing a pre-fertilised queen, is that you are basically replacing the entire gene pool of the hive over the next couple of months. None of the new bees will be related to the old ones, but they will inherit the honey and other stores.
This is how she arrived, in a container about the size of a matchbox. 
From Grafton.
Queens come from Queensland. 

Into the hive, already there was capped brood, the previous checks couple of days ago showed only grubs, I think.

A Supercedure cell. A few of these around. Maybe the result of the previous queens capitulation? (That would be 2 queens ago, now.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Her Majesty the Queen!
Found her easy, on one of the middle frames.
She ducked around a bit. Nervous?
Sense of impending doom?
Here she is, just before she died. Sad.
A couple of her escorts tried valiantly to defend her, but the big glove from the sky just squished her head in.

New queen in her cage, installed.
Should take a day or so to eat her way out?
Hope she is OK, the last 6 days would have been very traumatic for her, now she's in a box full of hostile bees. At least until they get accustomed to her scent, and realise the old queen is gone.
Below, a couple of old queens. That's a $2 coin, for scale.
The little white things at the back are eggs she was secreting (?) even while she was dead.

Seems crazy to kill a young queen,
but them's the beaks, one of them was going to die.


  1. I'm just starting out in beekeeping and really like your blog. One of the most entertaining and educational I've been able to find. Beautiful images as well - especially the photos from Lithuania. Thanks for the all the nice work!

  2. geez man.
    saw yer blog.
    nice beez

    having dropped my bee camera (i had a dedicated crappy camera that I could get covered in propilis and wasx....) when I did this last post, I have been hibernating along with my bees, but expect me to come back soon, as the days get longer and we head into an australian spring. Its gonna be a good one, I can tell.