I have so many things to be thankful for this season. One of them is “Queenie and the Jets” has baby bee brood! You were right Jim, when you said, “Queenie’s got this!” I know, I get excited about the strangest things, but this really increases the chances that this hive will make it. We still have a long way to go, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train coming!
I checked in the hive today to see the most wonderful sight; white baby bee larvae curled up in the comb chambers. Amazing! The warm weather is definitely working in our favor. After an egg is laid by Queenie, the rock star, it will hatch in 3 days, the larvae is fed for 5-7 days. The cell is then capped and after 16-24 days out comes a new worker bee. Amazingly, this new bee that hatches, will start with one job then transition to another. Here is a schedule of the many jobs this bee will do in her lifetime.
1-2 days – Cleans cells and keeps the brood warm
3-5 days – Feeds older larvae
6-11 days – Feeds youngest larvae
12-17 days – Produces wax, builds comb, carries food, undertaker duties
18-21 days – Guards the hive entrance
22+ days – Flying from hive begins, pollinates plants, collects pollen, nectar and water. So the oldest most experienced bees are the ones you and I see on the sunflowers in our garden.
The complexity of bees continues to amaze me! I was a little worried, o.k. maybe more than a little, because I learned that a bee lives about 6 weeks. Doing the math, I thought, at the end of Winter there will be precious little left besides Queenie, all by her lonesome knitting and muttering to herself. However nature marvels again. I say this because a bee that would normally live only 6 weeks during the Spring lives all the way through the Winter months to forage in Spring. This gives the hive a good start of foraging before these bees pass the baton to the younger generation! I know, amazing! I guess it makes sense that it takes a lot more out of a bee to forage than it does to hunker down and keep everybody warm, well at least in Texas. The bees like their hive to be a constant 93 degrees so they clump together during cold times, circulating outward, always protecting the queen. They achieve this ideal temperature by quivering their wing muscles. Again, amazing!
So what did I do as a bee keeper to help them achieve this milestone?
Well, despite my best attempt(robber screen, moving hive) they were still being robbed. After talking to my bee keeper friends, I decided to shut up the hive for 2 days and open it up for 1. Of course I provided food in the form of sugar syrup. This seemed to break the robbing cycle and gave the girls a chance to catch up, store some honey, LAY SOME BABY BEES! So I continue to keep a watch on my 6th child and I was ready to shut things up if I saw signs of robbing(fighting, aggression, frenetic activity at the entrance) It seems like they could fight the good fight for 1 day, but more than that was exhausting for them. Today I am so thankful and amazed that Queenie has laid baby bees! Feeling hopeful for this little spirited hive! Queenie and the Jets!