Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The tyrant queen

Bee hives have individual personalities. I guess that's where the term 'hive mind' comes from.
Hives # 3 and # 4 are the hippie bees. The pine needle smoke intoxicates them, but they are cruisy anyway. I can pull out frames laden with honey - and they are always beautiful, perfectly formed frames -  and the bees float around me in a peaceable cloud ... vaguely concerned at my stealing their honey but pretty philosophical about the whole thing.

"Oh, wow. What is this strange white-clad, bear-like creature doing?"
"She's moving in peace, man and now she's reaping our blessed harvest."
"She's sort of nice. And that smoke is really nice. Dude, that smells so good."

 Then there is hive #2. (I'm gonna have to come up with some better names but #2 has always been known to me as the Tyrant Queen.) When I open the lid, the buzz rises. I can hear them get angry. They start attacking. They get me through my leather gloves and any part of clothing that is touching my body. In the past, I've driven home 300 km with a face rearranged by this hive after they'd stung me through my mask.

"Fucking kill her!"
"Let's get the bitch! Chop off her head!"
"What the fuck does she think she is doing?"

The hippie hives are about four metres away from the Tyrant Queen and it never fails to amaze me how different they are in nature. When I first get out there, the big question lurking in my mind is which hive do I rob first. The cranky one or the hippies? It's a worthy query, as the order of hive-robbing can have quite an impact upon my day.

After I'd requeened #2, (here) thus installing an aggressive, whip-cracking queen, I'd chosen to rob hers last and by then I was so tired from lugging hives around that this new regime coupled with a territorial tiger snake completely freaked me out. After swatting off her knasty knaves I gave up, walked away and left that bitch queen to her bloody honey. She could bloody keep it. I felt like one of those broken old bears in an Attenbrough show, except I had a pack of antihistamines in my pocket.

Today, we robbed the Tyrant Queen first. And that was a good idea. It's always the most productive hive because those bees are so angry, so driven, that they have fought off the night ants, the meat ants, the wax moth and even the feral bees in the tree next door.
Loads of honey.
So thank you, Your Majesty, and the hippies were beautiful.


  1. Nice story. I love the Bitch Queen.

  2. Loved this Sarah.

    Jen Ackland

    (wordpress and blogger are arseholes to try and switch between) argh xx

  3. Her little drones got me twice today, 300km from their hive. That bloody #2!

  4. It makes me wonder what an aggressive queen actually physically does to change the way all the other bees behave.

    Is it all just pheromones?

    1. I don't know Alex, but maybe your suggestion is spot on.