A new queen + Attack of the Zombees!

My last blog ended with a dead queen but also with the possibility that the workers had made a new one. We couldn’t check until the rain stopped.

When the rain evenly cleared we checked the hive and sadly, it was queenless. However, as mentioned in the last blog, I had ordered a new queen and needed to get her in the hive as soon as possible. A new queen bee is supplied in a little yellow plastic cage with a few loyal subjects (worker bees) keeping her company. The cage has a sugar door at one end which is sealed with a little plastic tab.

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Janet wasn’t around so I opened the hive on my own for the first time and suspended my £40 monarch between the frames.

If I’d popped her straight into the hive the workers would have seen her as an enemy and killed her. But suspended in the safety of the plastic cage they will slowly get used to her smell so that hopefully, by the time she escapes they will welcome her to the throne (i.e. not kill her but allow her to start laying eggs and making new bees). So we waited for two days.

Mum called round and pulled on Janet’s bee-keeping suit. Mum kept bees at this same cottage back in the 1980s when my dad was alive and when she was about the same age as I am now. Here’s Mum and Dad back then.

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and here’s Mum nearly 40 years later, puffing my smoker!

The ‘putting a-new-queen-in-a-hive’ instructions told us that we should wait for two days then break the plastic tab (so it is only the sugar door between the queen and her workers) . . .

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. . . then close the hive and wait for four more days before checking that the sugar door had been eaten and the queen was with the workers.

This is the plastic cage after four days.

Empty! The queen and her workers have joined the rest of the hive. But has she been accepted? Is she laying eggs or have they killed her?

The ‘putting a-new-queen-in-a-hive’ instructions tells us to wait another two weeks — checking the frames straight away would upset the colony.

We’re feeding them with sugar solution (this encourages the queen to lay) and if all goes to plan, in two weeks time, we’ll open the hive and find some brood (eggs and larvae). Our hive will survive!

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Attack of the Zombees at the Oxford Museum of Natural History

I travelled to Oxford on Monday with my pens and guitar.

My first call was at Radio Oxford where I chatted with radio presenter Lilley Mitchel about my Bee Boy books.

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I even got to play my guitar on her show! Here’s a link. Wind forward to 1:08:00  to hear our chat.

Then I moved on to the Oxford Museum of Natural History. I arrived early and headed straight for the bug section! So many amazing displays and it’s given me an idea for another book!

I also visited the indoor beehive. It has tubes linking it to the outdoors where you can watch the busy comings and goings of the bees. I took a short video and was amazed to see a performance of the waggle dance. Bees waggle in a figure of eight to tell their sisters that they have discovered a worthwhile source of pollen and nectar.

The waggling looks chaotic but they are, in fact, instructions explaining how far away and in what the direction from the sun the food source is located. Amazing!

Inside the lecture theatre, I really enjoyed playing my guitar (twice in a day!) and telling my audience about my bees and my Bee Boy books.

 

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Especially Attack of the Zombees which was published last week.

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Hannah from Oxford University Press and Carly from the museum ensured that everything ran smoothly. It was such a lovely setting to sell and sign books!

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