Friday, August 17, 2012



    The WEEKENDER:) ponders the path we choose.  Given choices, we decide which way to go, or what to do.
   Here's an amusing example, forwarded by old pal and longtime social observer =w=.  He is a frequent contributor to our comments section.

     The recent posts regarding the bee hive and the status of the Queen, brought an interesting set of questions from a  friend, who has spent a career around power, politics and government.  His is the small print questions in white blocks.  The answers are from Michael Reddell, the beekeeper extraordinaire here on the Central Coast.

 Would like to know more about how Queens are "made"

When one of three things happen, the bees begin to produce queen cells in the brood nest. When worker eggs are laid, they are fed royal jelly for a couple of days. After that, workers are then fed honey and fermented pollen. When they decide it's time for a new queen, they choose up to a dozen normal worker eggs and feed them royal jelly exclusively for their entire development. This is the single factor that distinguishes infertile workers from fertile queens in their development. The three things that trigger queen-making are:
  • Loss of the existing queen
  • Infertility or drone-only egg production by the existing queen
  • Over-crowding. This triggers the preparation for the division of the crowded hive into two hives. In order to have two hives there must be two queens, thus a new one is grown by the dietary change described above. This division process is known as swarming, and there's a whole separate discussion around that.

and how the hive knows to "kill" its queen -- who decides?  does she go gracefully -- Inca style.   Or kicking and screaming?

Anytime two queens encounter each other face to face, a deadly battle ensues. Usually the younger of the two prevails. In the case of overcrowding, about half the bees leave the hive with the old queen a few days before the new queens begin to hatch. If they stuck around, the new queen would kill the old queen and the swarm would not be able to leave.
In the cases where swarming is not the goal, the new queen kills the old queen. New virgin queens are relatively small and nimble compared to old laying queens and always prevail in battle. Also, the early age developmental task of a new-born queen is killing other queens. For the older queens that impulse is less intense, although always present to some degree.

Is there only ONE descendant candidate to replace the Q?
OR is their War of the Roses-style regicide in store for competing claimants?

Whenever the bees make a new queen, they grow around a dozen candidates. Usually, but not always, the first to hatch prevails, but when two or more hatch at about the same time, it's a bit like a wrestling match. The first to get an advantageous position in the struggle wins. Due to issues of anatomy, it's nearly impossible for two queens to sting each other simultaneously, meaning someone always prevails. Queens that are still in their queen cells are usually attacked and killed before they have a chance to get out of the cell.  After all this, the new queen settles in for around 5 days before going on mating flights. She mates with several drones high in the air, then returns to the hive, never to leave again unless with a swarm.

    So, is there something to take from this as regards
human behavior and motive?  The comments in response 
from my friend turn some difficult questions of their own.
That, in a future post.
     See you down the trail.


  1. I think the U.S. is heading toward becoming a matriarchal society . . perhaps in 50 to 100 years . . maybe sooner.

  2. I find all this bee talk fascinating. As for the video, I don't think I'd go that far. I know I wouldn't press the damn button 5000 times.