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An “undercover” queen nearly loses her life

The more you work with bees, the more you learn their patterns. After a while, you know pretty much what you’re going to see when you open a hive. But just when you think you’ve got them all figured out, they do something strange.

For example, yesterday I opened all my hives. I went from one to the next checking for eggs, larvae, honey, swarm cells, overcrowding—the usual stuff. I was tired by the time I got to the last one.

I threw the lid in the grass, checked a few frames, cut off some burr comb, and added a honey super. I put the whole thing back together, but then I noticed some burr comb inside the cover. I grabbed my trusty hive tool and started to scrape. Then I froze in mid-scrape and did a double take. Crawling from under the pile of burr comb was the queen! She started strolling around the cover, seemingly without a care in the world.

Crazy woman! I nearly killed her! You could spend your whole beekeeping life looking for your queen inside the cover and you’re never going to find her there. But just when you’re not paying attention, there she is . . . and with a death wish.

I carried the cover back to the hive and carefully inverted it over the super. She dropped off and disappeared between the frames. Now I have this overwhelming urge to go see if she’s all right, which of course would be a totally stupid thing to do—she didn’t get in trouble until I opened the hive so why would I want to do it again? Still, though, I wonder about her.

The moral of the story, I suppose, is never assume too much. No matter what you think you know, your bees will eventually prove you wrong.

Rusty

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