Bee Keeping: Mysteries Of Bee-keeping Explained
After the first queen was matured, and had left her cell, I caught her
within six hours, taking advantage of her younger sisters, which were
yet sealed up, and of course could offer no resistance. She first made
an opening that would allow her to reach the abdomen of her competitor
(probably this is the most vulnerable). As soon as this was
sufficiently large to admit her body, she thrust it in, inflicting the
ng. This was then left for another, that soon shared the same
fate. If quick and spiteful movements are any indications of hatred, it
was manifested here very plainly. The bees enlarged the orifice and
dragged out the now dead queens.
Now, if I should say that all queens were dispatched in this way,
merely because I witnessed it in this case, it would be carrying out
the principle I am endeavoring to avoid: that is, judging all cases
from one or two solitary facts. As it is, it is somewhat confirmatory
of what some others have said. I will suppose, then, until further
evidence contradicts it, that the first perfect queen leaving her cell,
makes it her business to destroy all rivals in their cradle, as soon as
it is decided that no more swarms shall issue. By keeping grass, weeds,
&c., away from about the stock, these dead queens, as they are brought
out, may be frequently found. Such as are removed during the night may
be often found on the floor-board in the morning. I have found a dozen
by one stock. Should the stock send out but one swarm, they may be
found about the time, or a little before you would listen for the
piping. But should after swarms come out, they will, or may be found
the next morning after it is decided that no more are to issue. It is
very seldom that all the queens reared are needed. They make it a rule,
as far as they have control, to go on safe principles, by having a
little more than just enough. When several such bodies are thrown out,
and no piping is heard, no further swarming need be expected. But
should you hear the piping a day or two after finding a dead queen, you
may yet look for the swarm.
It is stated that when the bees decide an after swarm shall issue, the
first queen matured is not allowed to leave her cell, but kept a
prisoner there, and fed until wanted to go forth with the swarm. This
may be true in some cases (though not satisfactorily proved), but I am
quite sure it is not in all.
When she is confined to her cell, how does she ascertain the presence
of others? By leaving the cell, this knowledge is easily obtained.
Huber says she does, and is "enraged at the existence of others, and
endeavors to destroy them while yet in the cell, which the workers will
not allow; this is so irritating to her majesty that she utters this
peculiar sound." Also second and third swarms may contain several
queens, frequently two, three, and four; even six at one time come out.
If these had to bite their way out, after the workers had decided it
was time to start (for it _must be they_ decide it when the queens are
shut up), they would hardly be in season.