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Waiting for mating

It’s Day 5 or maybe Day 6 since the emergence of the queen in the observation hive and if the weather were better there might have been some rather exciting aerobatics. But it’s been cloudy and cool for the past few days and although the queen is probably mature enough to mate, she hasn’t ventured outside (I don’t think so anyway!).

The books say that as time goes on she will be harassed, probably to encourage here to leave the hive to mate, but all seems relatively quiet for the moment even though she still has to struggle to walk through the colony and is shown no deference.

In reading up about the mating process, I’ve been surprised to read about the possible purpose of an activity frequently seen by beekeepers: the massing of flying bees in flight in front of a hive. I’d always been told that this was probably young bees on orientation flights for the first time, but research has shown that all ages of bees are to be found in these mass flights! The flights may be practice for mating flights of the queen — or even the real thing. They don’t happen if no queen is present in the hive says Jurgen Tautz in his beautifully illustrated and fascinating book The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism.

Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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