CATCH THE BUZZ – A Yellow Marked Queen

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A Yellow Marked Queen – Bee Culture May 2019

By: Jean Hacken

This true story begins with a healthy observation hive that had a yellow-marked queen.

The observation hive thrived with eggs, larvae, capped brood and honey.

One morning, I received a call from a staff member, “The bees are swarming!” When I arrived at the nature center, most, but not all of the bees had returned to the hive.

On the ground below the outside entrance to the hive, there was a three-foot cluster of bees. “The queen must be in there,” I remarked to bystanders. While contemplating rescue options, the cluster got smaller and smaller. I leaned down to see more closely and saw the queen, or . . . what was left of her.

Though she was twitching and moving, I realized that there was only half a queen – the lower half was missing. Not a pretty sight. After 20 minutes, she quit moving and the bees slowly departed.

We scratched our heads and speculated among ourselves why she was cut in half.

The next day, Kenneth Rosenthal, the naturalist from the nature center emailed a photo taken of the queen the previous day with the subject line: “Now I know what happened to the queen.”

Post script: At the start of the swarm, we had seen a skink beneath the hive entrance, atop a two foot-high stone-wall with a bee in its mouth, and congratulated it for being in the right place at the right time for a meal. At the time, we had no idea that the bee, in fact, was THE QUEEN until the following day

During the swarm, the skink had a lot of bees to pick from. Too bad (for us) it just happened to pick the queen.