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Queen Bees and Bellowing Deer

  • March 3rd, 2007

The most interesting thing I’ve seen over the last week was the beekeepers’ requeening and splitting of hives on my farm. They put fresh queens in to rejuvenate poor hives. The hives which have lost their mojo are dull and quiet and have not made much honey.I was safely suited up in white gauze. Some of the beekeepers were working with bare hands, simply flicking the sting out when an angry bee ignored the smell of smoke blown over their hands.

They take the lid off the hive, pull out each frame in turn and hunt for the queen. There are scores if not hundreds of bees scurrying over each frame and they have to pick out one bee which is a few millimetres longer.

If her offspring are too black and hostile they quickly squash her between their fingers, then put in a fresh new warm yellow queen. She’s locked in a plastic box with a sugar candy door. By the time she has eaten her way out the bees have got used to her smell, and will not kill her. She becomes their new queen.

People have always seen parallels between bees and peoples. It can be taken too far. The queen’s mate (and his friends) all die as soon as he’s done the job. Hopefully that’s a bit severe, even for our rampant feminists.

I hope we stay more like the deer that are also warming up on the farm for their raunchy party season next month. There the herd is rejuvenated by bellowing tournaments where the smartest and the scariest get to hog the most hinds.

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