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They Say a Queen Calms Them…

…and they’d be right! That nasty little group of bees that I picked up at Westover Plantation, in Charles City, Va, this year has always been a bit grumpy. I could put my face within 6 inches of the landing board of the parent hive (original Westover hive) without a problem. But, the minute that I opened them up to look at them, I would get two or three bees banging against my veil. Of course, I was not using smoke but I did not use smoke with my other hives either and never had the same amount of aggression that I would have with Westover. As a side note, I was stung a grand total of 1 time, but they still acted more grumpy, even if they didn’t always act on it.

Then, I split the hives in mid-June and this made it worse, especially with the William Byrd Hive (the Queenless split off of the Westover hive.) In fact, they were a bit more aggressive then the parent. I am now certain that this was due to the queenless situation. I have often read that this will make a hive become a bit aggressive and this proved true for me.

The good news is that they have become much more gentle now. At my last inspection, I had one trying to bump against my veil, but I consider that fairly gentle when you consider that I was breaking the entire hive apart looking for the queen and was not using smoke. The best news came today when I actually found the queen and did not receive a single aggressive move. They remained fairly calm, which is a huge development, considering it is mid-July when every hive that I own is a bit on edge due to the dearth and drought. I considered marking the queen and still will probably do so, but I want to practice on a few drones before I do that. I am thinking that I will get some practice next weekend on the Albo hive out at the Mountcastle out-yard, as they always have a ton of drones. Hopefully, I’ll get this queen marked in August.

So, today was a pretty positive day for me with the bees. It’s nice to have a positive outcome after so many battles with robbing of my smaller hives. It’s also a big deal as this is the first queen that I have forced my bees to raise on their own. In fact, it represents my first genetic move. I am hopeful that this new queen’s eggs have the strong work ethic of the Westover hive with the gentle nature of some of my other hives. She was a big gal. Hopefully, during the August inspection, we’ll find a really good brood pattern. That’s the next step. I will not really know the results of this new queen until next Spring, outside of the brood pattern.

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