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The Swarm

      The queen was agitated. The workers had fed royal jelly to a developing embryo and a new queen would soon emerge from her cell. The queen with her entourage of attendants went to the nursery. She repeatedly inserted her stinger into the embryo, killing it before it ever had a chance to fly. The workers stood by and did nothing to hinder the queen. It wasn’t the correct time.

      A few weeks later, she sensed another queen bee was ready to emerge. Again she went to the nursery with murder on her mind. But this time the worker bees would not allow her to kill the emerging new queen.
The hive was overpopulated and the workers had decided to start a new colony. There would be no fight. Sometimes the new queen leaves, other times it is the old queen who starts a new colony. It was decided the old queen would leave.

      Dad noticed the activity in the morning. Bees were flying around the kitchen window; thousands were crawling all over the old hive. The queen had not left the hive. Dad was ready.

      A new box or super was at the end of the row of hives. Frames were in place for the bees to build their honeycomb.

       Lois and I were off to one side of the flying bees. Both of us had an old pot and a large spoon. We were hitting the pot and making as much noise as possible. I have no idea if this did any good.

       The bees were so excited about the queen’s soon departure from the hive that they didn’t sting anyone. Bees were everywhere. Lois and I stepped back a few more feet.

        We didn’t see the queen leave the hive but suddenly a ball of bees began to form on a low hanging limb close by the house. The ball grew as the teeming mass of bees increased. The air was empty of bees. They were all clustered around the old queen in a mass the size of a basketball.

        Luckily it was a lower branch. Dad approached the ball slowly. He held the branch with one hand and with his knife or snippers severed the branch. He took the ball of bees to the empty hive and gently shook the bees loose. If all goes well, the bees fall into the hive. At other times he leaves the branch and bees in the hive. He placed the top on and we have a new populated hive.

       Sometimes things do not go according to Hoyle. The queen may fly to a top branch and the swarm forms there. She may fly completely away to the woods. Scouts find a hallow tree and she forms her colony there. We are out of luck.

       465 words      9/26/16