So, what's new?

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HVB
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon May 16, 2022 3:12 pm

Re: So, what's new?

Post by HVB »

Regarding bees, I've heard that there is alot of drama surrounding the queens. Vying for the "throne", Bees hunting her down and killing her to steal her place. I forget the details, but it all sounded sinister.

I've not been up to much. Working, dogs, cycling, chocolate...

My current dilemma is my 12 y/o who was supposed to return to the states to begin middle school in September after 6 years of school in SG is now too afraid to come and I have no idea what to do. So it is up in the air currently...
Talanall
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2022 3:13 pm
Location: Northern Louisiana, USA

Re: So, what's new?

Post by Talanall »

I'm sorry to hear about your child's difficulties. I hope it works out to everyone's satisfaction.

And yeah, sometimes there are incidents where the succession in a colony of bees gets a little messy. It's unusual, but not rare, and most of the time it happens when the colony has just swarmed. The mature queen leaves the hive with about 1/3 to 1/2 the workers, and leaves behind anywhere from 6 to a little more than 12 special cells in the brood, each containing a nascent queen. If it's a big colony to start with, the first couple of new queens might swarm off with more workers. But if there aren't enough workers and there are still multiple queens, or if there's inclement weather so that they can't leave, the remaining queens may end up fighting it out.

See, when a new queen emerges from her cell, she kind of, uh, screams. No, seriously. It's called "piping," but it's totally a bee scream. A battle cry.

And her sister queens scream back at her, even if they haven't hatched yet. At that point, if they haven't hatched she goes and finds them, and she stings them to death through the wax. If they have hatched, then there's a fight.

And then also, sometimes the workers commit regicide. If the queen's getting old, or maybe she didn't mate with enough drones when she hatched and went on her mating flights, then she kind of slows down on laying eggs and she doesn't emit as much queen pheromone. The workers notice, and at that point they start raising new queens. And then they murder the old queen by balling up around her and shivering until she cooks to death.
Fixxxer
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2022 9:45 pm

Re: So, what's new?

Post by Fixxxer »

We've been seeing a LOT of bees shipping through our warehouse over the past two months. I'm constantly amazed at how squeamish people can be around them. But even I'll admit that it can sometimes be a bit off putting to open up a shipping trailer and suddenly hear a few hundred thousand bees that are angry because the container has been jarringly moved recently, and to feel the heat of some many of those bees at the same time.
Talanall
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2022 3:13 pm
Location: Northern Louisiana, USA

Re: So, what's new?

Post by Talanall »

It sounds like a shitty way to find out bee stings, allergies to apivenom, etc. for anyone who isn't already familiar with what those things are like.

You and I grew up in rural/suburban environments, and I imagine we both spent some time outdoors, doing stupid kid stuff that raises your chance of getting stung. So I think this was just a thing we learned about in kids. But if someone comes from a more urbanized locality, or just didn't spend a lot of time outdoors for whatever reason, then I guess it'd be more disquieting to confront that kind of unknown as an adult.

I think that's especially true when there are just so many bees in one place. A package is usually pretty docile because it has no brood or honey stores to protect, so there's minimal chance of getting stung when you handle the bees from one. It's basically an artificial swarm. But swarms will sting if you fuck with them hard enough, and shipping is exactly the kind of thing that bees would construe as being fucked with.

A single package contains about 3 lbs. of bees. Call it 3,300 bees per pound.

So if you get a couple of ruptured packages in a confined space, that's probably enough bees to kill somebody, even without allergies. I forget the lethal dose of apivenom for a typical adult person; it's way higher than people think, but way less than is embodied in that many bees.
Fixxxer
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2022 9:45 pm

Re: So, what's new?

Post by Fixxxer »

The cases they send them in are pretty sturdy and they're always held until the last moment before the trailer is shut and sent on its way, so all the bees are together in an area with enough air. As a result, I haven;t seen a container broken open yet. But I hear that did happen the year before last. I'm told that the procedure they used was basically to put a shipping exception an everything in the trailer (adding an extra day to the delivery time), moving the trailer to a quiet part of the yard, and leaving it open, hoping to "air it out." I can't imagine that worked the way they hoped it would, but I could see it being a benefit in that it would at least calm the angry bees down enough for some poor schmuck to then have to begin the process of unloading packages from the trailer.
HVB
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon May 16, 2022 3:12 pm

Re: So, what's new?

Post by HVB »

If I hear anything buzzing I am running for cover. I don't think I have ever been stung so I have no experience and when my dog was stung I touched the area ...which is a bad idea...so there I am pouring vinegar and baking soda all over his back because I have no idea what to do regarding bee stings.

Not bees but I had a hornet nest in my AC unit. In 90 degree weather I put on every piece of winter clothes I had to go investigate it... The constant buzzing was eerie.

I am not an outdoorsy person at all. I can't imagine voluntarily getting stung. I'd be terrified of getting thousands of bees in the mail...I didn't even know that was a thing...although I did hear something about people stealing queens from bee keepers and selling them, so I guess bees in the mail...
Fixxxer
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2022 9:45 pm

Re: So, what's new?

Post by Fixxxer »

Bees are regularly shipped through the mail. Unless you get lucky and find a hive that's swarming, or unless -like Talanall- you have your own hive and can catch it when it swarms- there's really no other easy way to get bees if you want to start keeping them yourself. The drones are shipped in containers made from hard plastic mesh that they can't sting out of. You get it and leave it sit in the shade for a while and the bees will calm down. You can then dump them (literally) into your prepared hive. They'll recognize it for the primo spot it is and stay put. Queens are shipped separately in a much smaller container. That container has a plug made of sugar in it, so you just place the container in the hive with the rest of the bees and they'll eat their way through the sugar to free the queen. You've then got a functioning bee hive.
Talanall
Posts: 24
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2022 3:13 pm
Location: Northern Louisiana, USA

Re: So, what's new?

Post by Talanall »

Yeah, hive theft is a thing. Not much of a problem around my area, but it's a real phenomenon. The messed up part is that stealing bees is something that you need to be a beekeeper to do. Trying it without the requisite knowledge is a good way to get dead.

Mail-order bees like Fixxxer is talking about are called "package bees." They're how I got mine, although I did not dump mine into the hive. I opened their mesh box, took the queen out and put her in between a couple of frames inside the hive, and then I pulled out about five frames and replaced them with the entire box of bees. And then I put the lid on the hive. Next day, I came back and took away the empty box. There was a layer of dead bees in the bottom, and this method allowed me to remove those.

The queens you get with package bees are mated, so they're too fat to fly well, so the queens usually stay put. I shaved the odds in my favor even more by anointing the interior of the hive with a few dabs of lemongrass oil, which is powerfully attractive to honeybees.

About a week later, the bees had built their first little bits of wax comb, which the queen laid eggs into. At that point they weren't going to leave short of swarming. Bees can smell young larvae, and they don't like to abandon it. People who have established bee colonies already will actually steal a frame of larvae from one and install it into a hive with their package bees for this reason.
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