April from the Hives

On Friday, April 7th, we installed two new packages of bees at the Cathedral. Our packages traveled from Georgia to Upstate NY in a truck with a few hundred other packages of bees. Each package contains a mated queen and approximately 9,000 worker bees, both nurse bees and foragers, as well as drones. The queen is in a separate, small cage with a handful of attendants who groom and feed her during the journey.

Queens must be accepted by the colony first, otherwise the bees may kill her. This is done by the release and transfer of a pheromone called Queen Mandibular Pheromone (QMP). A queen who is unmated (not egg-laying) produces less QMP than a mated queen. The pheromones are transferred throughout the hive by the attendant and nurse bees who groom and feed the queen and move about the rest of the hive. As QMP transfers throughout the hive, the colony recognizes that they are queenright, meaning there is a laying queen. This suppresses the ovary development in workers. Without the presence of QMP in the hive however, the colony will attempt to make a new queen from eggs by feeding the larvae a diet of royal jelly. If there are no eggs to rear a new queen the hive becomes unstable. Some workers transition to laying workers. However, the eggs are not fertile and result in the rearing of drones only. A hive with laying workers will quickly die if not corrected.

Our queens were released safely and observed inside the hive on Tuesday last week by Arleen and Juliette. The hives are being fed a sugar supplement and the foragers are collecting pollen and nectar, which will be used to feed the hive.

We will be inspecting again on Friday, April 21, 2023. For more information, or to become a beekeeper volunteer, please contact Caroline Cosgrove at ccosgrove@incarnationgc.org