In the last two months, I’ve noticed that the bees in the Freddy Mercury hive have become increasingly aggressive and defensive of their hive. The last two visits were particularly “hot”. At first I thought that high humidity or heat was causing them to be ornery. Lately, however, I’ve begun to look at other explanations.
Taking some time to meditate on the problem and do some research, I think I’ve figured it out.
Recall that in May, the hive requeened itself and we welcomed a new queen. I suspect that she mated with an aggressive bee and her offspring are showing these traits. I believe these aggressive traits are resulting in what is called a “hot hive”. Our hive is hot. (Leave it to Freddy!)
Solution? We’re going to requeen the hive with a new queen and essentially breed the aggression out of our hive. (Sorry, Freddy. Nature can be cruel.) Queens that we have purchased have been mated with bees with a calmer temperment and our hives have until recently been really sweet.
The other hive has been struggling all summer. It has suffered robbing (from other hives) and a wax moth infestations. Not pretty. I’ve been borrowing brood from the healthy hive. I’ve even combined two weak hives to create a strong hive. I continue to baby this hive.
I’ve held off on naming the queen of the weaker hive since there have actually been two queens, and they’ve both been unsuccessful.
We are not doing any more tours this season until our requeening experiment bears out.
You can, and should, continue to support the hives. They need your love. We just aren’t doing any more inspection tours for the remainder of the season.
In the coming months, we’ll bee putting together a committee to train parents and teachers who want to get involved with the hives. We are still looking for donations to send teachers to beek school. If there are any parents interested in taking classes in the Spring, I recommend the Two Hives Honey Beek Apprenticeship program. Classes begin in the fall, and they are adept at handling distance learning. Tara Chapman is our bee mentor and offers an amazing program, as well as many educational opportunities.
Image: Workers care for eggs and larvae at various stages of development. Can you see any eggs? (Hint: they look like grains of rice.)