Saturday, July 14, 2012

Beware the Queen Killer!

Sometimes we're so prepared for the 'big one' that it's a tiny little thing that takes us off guard.

My beekeeping friend Henry calls these little ones the Queen Killer.

So what is it?  When the inner cover is off and you look down at your frames often you'll see that the bees have built comb attaching the frames together.

To the bees, these are wax bridges that allow the bees to more efficiently travel from one frame to the next.  Just think, without the bridge they'd have to climb down the frame, walk to the end, cross the front or back of the hive to the next frame.  That's like taking the long way to work.  And you'd be late too!

The photo at the top shows several of these bridges that the bees built connecting the last frame in the hive.

The problem with them is that they stick out.  So when you lift out a frame the wax nub scrapes the adjacent frame while you pull it up.

The projecting bridge will kill bees as it scrapes along... and if the queen happens to be in the way, she can be killed.

Projecting bits of wax may seem innocent but keep an eye on them when removing frames, or scrape them away.

[Photo - a bee bridge between an old frame and a new one.  I find the bridges helpful when putting frames back - you'll know if you have the frame the the right way around because they fit back together like puzzle pieces.]

Bridges aren't so dangerous once a frame is removed, then subsequent frames can be shift over making more room to lift out frames without scraping.
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