Copper Bee Apiary

A garden apiary in Whittlesford, Cambridge, UK - honey bees and their beekeeper Hilary van der Hoff.

A Queen on my Hat

It's my second post of the day, but something exceptional has just happened and I want to tell you about it.

I opened the Cedar Hive this evening. It was a little late in the day to be opening a hive (about 5 pm), but it was still warm on the gin terrace and I wanted to make sure the colony wasn't poised to issue a swarm tomorrow. All was well. They are a nice colony, expanding well with lots of eggs and young larvae. No sign of imminent swarming. I didn't see Queen Eve, but I closed up the hive quite happy.

As I was going indoors, I saw in my peripheral vision that there was a bee on the brim of my hat. I just caught a glimpse of her long, pointed abdomen. I thought, wouldn't it be funny if there were a queen bee on my hat? Then I looked a bit harder. Then I hurried to the mirror. Well, lo and behold, there was a queen bee on my hat.

Now you might remember that something a bit like this happened the last time I opened the Cedar Hive. A queen appeared from nowhere. I tried to see whether this queen looked the same as that one. She sort of did, or at least she didn't look obviously different.

I took her off my hat and carried her back up to the Cedar Hive. Carefully, I put her on the landing board just in front of the entrance. Bees came hurrying out to surround her. It seemed like a welcome...they crowded around and over her. Not buzzing or stinging, but attentive. But the queen seemed weak, possibly from cold and/or hunger. She couldn't seem to manage to climb up into the hive. The bees tried to help. I tried to help with a small twig. We got her in.

Welcome committee? She's in the middle somewhere.

Welcome committee? She's in the middle somewhere.

I don't know what happened next. Was it Queen Eve? If it was, how on earth did she get on my hat?! Is this a queen who just likes to come out and take the air? Or was it a rival monarch who is at this very moment causing havoc within the Cedar Hive?

I'm having a rest from bees tomorrow. Pond Hive, please be good.

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