Hail to the Returning Queen
By Holly Kennedy
The word went out on the Rye Moms Facebook page: “The Queen has escaped, please be on the lookout.” The next post was a photo showing everyone what a Queen bee and her hive of worker honeybees look like when they’re on the move.
It was impressive and a little daunting. The photo showed a large football- shaped cluster of thousands of honeybees clinging to a tree branch, surrounding the Queen. Peggy and Jono Peters, owners of this hive and beekeepers for years, reassured everyone that honeybees do not pose much of a risk to humans unless you disturb their busy-bee work. Peggy promised to collect the hive when it was sighted. The reward was a jar of honey.
The search was on. The Rye Moms Facebook page was on alert and engrossed in the summer escape and potential rescue story. Since there was a possibility that the Queen, and her court of worker bees, may have been looking for a new residence in our old neighborhood of Indian Village, I started paying attention, as did the Rye Moms in the hood.
Bees are essential pollinators and, of course, produce delicious honey. Bee colonies expand dramatically during the spring and summer to accomplish their amazing feats. A Queen bee leaves her hive with about 60 percent of the colony’s worker bees when they need more space to work and store pollen and honey. This process is called swarming and is how one bee colony becomes two. The swarming colony leaves to find new digs, leaving the rest to expand with a new Queen in the original hive.
We were fixated on the Queen Bee colony updates. Happily, less that 24 hours later, Peggy reported success. The Queen was home, her new colony established in their vegetable garden near the original beehive.
We all know a lot more about bees thanks to the summer escape. Next question, when will the honey be ready?