Would the real Queen bee Aurora please stand up?

September 8, 2010 | By | Comments (1)

It was pretty quiet around here before the long Labor day weekend.  Margaret had taken the day off; Brianne and Erin were leaving early.  But Aurora still needed us.

As advised by Tina and Thomas Keller when we welcomed Queen bee Aurora, we didn’t want to leave the original box the swarm came in on the hive over the weekend. The foundationless comb was now empty of eggs and larvae and we would have a big sticky cross-comb mess on our hands soon.

It was up to me.

In the early afternoon heat, I went out to Queen bee
Aurora’s hive and rotated the boxes so that the box containing the original swarm
cutout was the top box. This gave
me access to the foundationless comb. I put the queen excluder between the boxes so Aurora wouldn’t escape the
bottom box.

Tina and Thomas had suggested we shake Aurora’s worker bees
into the bottom box and remove the top box altogether because winter is almost
upon us and Aurora isn’t likely to need a second box. So I began.

I shook the first frame; I shook the second. I got to the fifth frame and just as I was about to shake it, I saw … a QUEEN BEE! And EGGS! What?!! I asked myself, “How did Aurora get up here?” I was so confused.

Not wanting to remove the queen from the hive, I left that
frame in the top box and put in empty foundation frames, removed the queen excluder, closed up the hive, and went back into the office .

I emailed Tina to say it seemed Aurora had somehow made it
through the queen excluder and was laying eggs in the top box! She immediately
wrote back to say it probably wasn’t Aurora, but rather a new queen the workers
made with an Aurora egg because they thought Aurora had gone AWOL. Oh, yes. That made much more sense. Silly me. And now that I allowed myself to think, I did remember seeing a queen cell on that fourth frame.


Shoot.Now we
presumably had two queens in one hive, with no queen excluder. They were sure to battle it out over the weekend until only one remained. Poor queen bee.

But Tina needed a queen!She offered to come over to take home our newest queen, Aurora Junior. Hurray!

I found a picture of Aurora on my computer and printed it
for reference. We didn’t want Tina taking home Aurora, just in case she really was the only queen bee in the hive.

Tina arrived just before 5pm.It took a while, but we found the queen bee I had seen
earlier, still on that same frame.And she didn’t look like Aurora.


Tina borrowed the hive box full of empty frames and the
frame with the queen, a hive cover and bottom board, taped them up and put it
in the back of her car to take home.She has reported that she combined them
with one of her queenless hives and Aurora Junior is doing well.


We are grateful for Tina. We have saved a queen.

 By Kimberley Navabpour (previously Burch), Sunset
imaging specialist


  1. tina k (friend of nugget)

    Aurora Jr. is alive and well. Her colony is happy to have a queen and they are much calmer than they were 2 weeks ago. They are bringing in pollen again.

    September 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

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