I was planning on checking my hive yesterday. It has been ten days since I opened it up to see if my queen had been accepted by the colony and released from her cage. If you are unfamiliar with how this works, the queen is reared from a different colony than the bees she is shipped with. If she had not been contained separately in the shipping process, the bees in the package would recognize her as an intruder and kill her instantly. Keeping her in her own little “chamber” makes sure she’s safe during transport and gives the other bees a chance to become familiar with her pheromones, hopefully accepting her as one of their own after a few days in the hive.
My queen’s special cage has a name if you want to use correct beekeeper terminology. It is called a Benton cage – a small wooden block with wire screening and a short metal strip attached to it. One end has a little circular hole that is plugged with a cork. This cork will need to be removed to release the queen. So, on the day I received my bee package I carefully removed the cork at the end of the queen cage, keeping my finger over the hole to prevent her escape. Then, I replaced it with a squished marshmallow.
Benton queen cage with marshmallow candy
It fit nicely and this way, after I used the metal strip to hang her over one of the frames in the hive, the rest of the bees were able to eat away the marshmallow in a day or so, releasing her for me. So, when I checked that day, my queen had been released without incident and I carefully removed the empty cage and secured the hive inner and outer covers leaving the bees to do what bees do!
Benton queen cage hung over frame with metal strip
Back to this week’s visit…yesterday I planned to open my hive to see if the queen had started laying eggs. It had been ten days since I checked on the queen’s release and this would let me take a look to make sure everything was going okay. The weather was cool and we had light drizzle. My bees weren’t out flying, so I thought long and hard and decided to wait. This morning, we had more cool, wet weather, so again, I decided to delay things a bit.
Another factor in my choice to delay is my missing bee suit. I ordered it LAST month. In March! Is it here yet? Nope. No such luck. I finally found out from the shipping company yesterday that it was confiscated by customs while making it’s way to New York. That’s what I get for ordering a Lilac-colored suit with a fancy hat….from ENGLAND. It’s replacement should arrive in about three days, so check back and I promise to post very “bee-stylin’” pictures of me opening up the hive and checking to see how things are going. Hopefully my queen will be laying lots of eggs!