|My double-marked Italian replacement queen: last known photograph.|
This is the super-condensed, ultra-succinct version of a long, drawn-out saga.
I bought a new queen bee last Tuesday (the 4th) and installed her without a hitch. That Thursday I reopened the hive to be sure that the girls had freed her by eating through the little marzipan plug keeping her in her cage.
She was dead.
I took her back to the apiary supply store, intending to get another queen, and ended up abandoning all hope. After about an hour of discussion the boys at the store it was determined that my colony is hopeless with or without a queen because I don’t have enough workers left to keep the hive at 95 degrees so that the brood can hatch. If there’s a queen in there (and likely there is and that’s why the workers committed regicide on my lovely replacement) she can lay as many eggs as she wants but none of them will hatch, which means no more baby queens and no more baby workers and by the end of the summer the current population of the hive will have died off of old age.
I’m on the swarm list, which means that if the guys get a call from a distraught homeowner with a swarm in their yard and they remove it they may call me to see if I want to give it a permanent home. I’m pretty far down on the list, though, so I don’t hold out much hope for becoming a foster mom to 50,000+ honey-barfing babies*.
Once again (and you must all be getting tired of hearing this): I learn the hard way, but I do learn. I’ll try again next year.
* They do barf honey. Worker bees store nectar in a “honey stomach” (an enlargement of the esophagus) where they add enzymes to convert the sugars. Then they regurgitate it into cells and evaporate excess moisture before capping it. The wax is extruded from four glands on their bellies and is converted from honey and other carbohydrates.