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Farewell to the Queen

First, I’m so sorry it’s been so long between posts! After the frustrating inspection when we saw the queen fly off I lost track of the days. We had to do multiple inspections to check for her highness and then prepare to leave for a 10 day vacation. Then when we got back it was a whirlwind of inspections, harvesting, building new stuff……but more on all of that later.

When we were done with that last dreaded inspection I did what I do and went searching for help. I’ve never known a queen to just fly off during an inspection. Yes, I know they take off for their mating flight and will swarm if the conditions aren’t just right but to just pick up and go for what appears no apparent reason just baffled me. As always I had some very mixed responses in all of my beekeeping groups but the overall consensus was to be patient and she’d be back.

We waited until the next day to go back in to check. After a thorough inspection I was still at a loss. She is the only queen we have that is marked so I’ve never struggled to find her. We actually normally can spot her in the box it’s so easy. But once we were through every frame, twice, I just couldn’t find her. I stayed optimistic and thought maybe she was just hiding amongst the girls and we overlooked her. As optimistic as I tried to stay I was also worried. We were leaving for vacation and it would be another two weeks before I was able to inspect. I had a great conversation with a member of our beekeeping association who strongly urged I take the time to break back in to the hive before we left as it would be enough time to confirm either way.

So the day I’m set to leave for vacation I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I was juggling the last minute prep, a smoker that had been going for 18 hours and trying to fit in an inspection. And I’m glad I did. No, we didn’t find the queen. But we found ample queen cells that proved we had indeed lost the queen but the girls were doing what they do and were handling the situation on their own. At best count they had about 12 queen cells in all stages of development. It put my mind at ease knowing they were handling things but the worry of not knowing what would happen and if it would happen while on vacation was a pain.

At the end of the day though I knew I had to wait it out and there was nothing I could do. The girls would handle this on their own and if for some reason they didn’t I’d step in. Now we wait……

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