If you were to find these two (although dead) lovely ladies side by side outside your hive, would you notice a difference?
Randy Oliver would, and did. Of course he did; he’s well-known in the beekeeping world as an expert. But had I not taken his Intermediate Beekeeping class through the Beekeepers’ Guild of San Mateo County last weekend, I admit I would not have noticed.
What is the difference, you ask? The bottom bee is a virgin queen, a recently emerged queen who was unmated, and likely killed and kicked out of the hive after a swarm. You can see her abdomen is slightly larger, and there are no pollen sacs on her hind legs.
Small but important differences. I’m learning to pay close attention to details at the hive I once would have missed. If you just pay attention, the bees will let you know what’s going on inside their world.
by Kimberley Burch, Sunset imaging specialist