A queen returning from her mating flight
How often are you walking past your hive when a (previously) virgin queen alights on the landing board right in front of you? And how often when she does this do you happen to have a camera in your hand? Okay, the camera was not turned on and the lens cap was still in place. Nevertheless, I was able to get a few pics. Not great, but at least you can see her.
I had split this hive about two weeks earlier and taken the original queen for the split. The colony had been preparing to swarm and a number of queen cells were evident at the time of the split. After that, I had more or less forgotten about it, so it was a real shock to see this queen touch down in front of me. It actually took a moment for the whole thing to sink in.
When I first saw her she still had a mating sign attached to her abdomen, but it was quickly removed by the workers that surrounded her. By the time I got all my buttons and dials in the right place, she was already cleaned up and heading into the hive. Seriously, the whole process was amazingly quick, a matter of mere seconds.
She’s a pretty queen with an interesting pattern on her abdomen. The bees in this hive are basically mutts, crosses between Carniolans and whatever bees inhabit the area. This all happened last month and I haven’t opened the hive since then, but I can smell the strong scent of brood wafting from inside, especially on hot days, so I’m sure she’s doing just fine.
Honey Bee Suite