Choosing the hive queen

Many of you know my family and I are beekeepers.

We have multiple hives in our backyard currently producing some very delicious local honey!

What those of you who do not keep bees might not know, is how bees end up with their queen. Honeybee hives function with only 1 queen. She is the largest bee in the hive and the mother of all the bees in the hive.

Depending on hive circumstances, the hive might need to grow a new queen. Maybe, their queen is aging and not laying eggs of sufficient quality or quantity. Another situation might be that the hive becomes so large, the queen decides to leave the hive with half of the workers to establish a new hive (swarming).

Regardless of the reason, worker bees can grow a new queen whenever they need to as long as they have a freshly laid egg. Workers control whether a female be becomes a queen or a worker by controlling the larvae’s food. When they need a new queen, they hedge their bets and try to grow several queens to make sure at least one eventually emerges to be their new healthy queen.

If it is a swarming situation, just before the first one emerges, the older queen leaves, but when these new queens emerge, there are multiple queens in the hive! This will result in a fight.

Fights occur between the queens who will try to hold on to each other with their legs and mandibles while curling their abdomens around to try and sting the other (their stingers are special and will not die by stinging another queen). The queen who stings the other wins the fight. The stung queen is paralyzed and dies within about 15 minutes.

Young queens are harassed by workers who might clump (bite the queen’s legs or wing base) or grab (chew on the queen’s thorax or abdomen surface) the queen. There are teams of workers harassing either queen. While harassing, they do not participate in the fight by stinging. When one queen stings another, the stung queen might be held down before death by workers and receive additional stings.

After the fight, the hive has their queen, and they all immediately adopt her as their new hive mother. They start feeding her, protecting her, etc. The hives future success depends on the unity of the hive.

I will be disconnecting later today

Today, sometime between 7pm and 8pm, I will be shutting my phone off until tomorrow morning. I am doing this for my personal mental wellbeing. There is nothing I can affect, at this time, on the outcome of this election (or queen fight). Whoever wins, wins. I learned as a Soldier in the US Army that whoever is President is my President, whether I voted for them or not. I continue with this mindset, and I think it is realistic to expect that I do not have to like who we end up choosing – but they will still be my President.

Over the past 2 months, I have resisted using social media. I have fully logged out of each site, and when I did log in, it was for a purpose and time limited. I did this to avoid “doomscrolling” and increasing election anxiety (I doubt many missed my comments/posts/images).

I will be shutting off my phone tonight as I will do what I can to not lose sleep worrying about what I cannot control. I have done what I could when I voted.

I want to resist the endless 24/7 news cycle which thrives on maintaining viewership using the psychology of trauma, anxiety, and sadness while being a medium to sell advertising. I will be avoiding the news as much as I can.

When I was thinking about election day, I thought of honeybee queens. I think of each of us as Americans, harassing one of the queens during their fight (election campaign) – biting, chewing, or grabbing. When the dust settles after this election, only 1 queen will emerge victorious. I think about how our success as a country will depend on how well we as Americans recognize that we share the same hive.

Our queen will be the mother for the entire hive, even those who bit her legs and wings while fighting the defeated queen. I will support our queen. I hope all my fellow worker bees do as well for the success of the United States of America. After this election (queen fight), let’s try to not be distracted with who was on which side, and instead remember we live, work, and dream from the same home (hive).