Where to find a queen bee?
(Picture via the Frog Blog.)
It's not the kind of thing you pick up at Walmart, or even the local health food store, or even (because it's commie town) the local coöp. Although, as it turned out, it was not especially difficult to locate a queen, after all.
Just across the road and a quarter mile walk or so is a stand of bee hives. The guys come by now and then. We can see them out our window. We watch them. I'm not proud.
So, those guys, they sell the honey at the store, and if you google the name of their honey, you can find their phone number and call them up. Which is how I got to talk with Eugene!
Eugene: "So, you have these bees where?"
And I proceded to explain the location at the other end of our field.
Eugene: "That's a very good spot. I used to keep my bees there when W--- owned that land."
Me: "Oh, yeah. We bought it from W---."
Eugene: "In my experience, when the queen flies away, you just leave the top off and they come back."
Me: "Leave the roof off, you mean?"
Me: "But it's raining."
Eugene: "Oh, yeah, there's that."
He did have queens, as it turned out. He was willing to sell us one for $21.50.
Eugene: "But if you put her in there and the other one has come back, I fear they will not get along."
Eugene has such a mild way of putting things. Of course, if you have two queens in one hive, one will generally kill the other.
I could recount the whole adventure of finding the place, of wandering through fields of bees and round and round identical doors in pairs, when he said it would be left for me in a package in front of the middle door, and how the hand reached out, finally, and a gruff female voice said, "you lookin' for the queen?" and how we did the usual required niceties of recounting whose cousin was whose, and how I finally came home with a queen and we waited for a day and a half to put her out there in the hive, because it was too cold, and how we left her in her little cage once we put her in the hive, in hopes that no one will kill her, but we have no plan for what to do if the other queen really did already come back. All of that would be boring to recount.
Anyhow, I'll keep you updated. So far, the bees are doing just fine.
I give us an A+. (I grade on a curve.)