Driving back from Cobble Hill, I had a New Zealand queen quietly sitting in my shirt pocket; a couple of worker bees along for the ride. This queen was marked with a glob of white (the colour for years ending in 1 or 6) and was destined for a queenless hive in Victoria. While there were some problems with shipments of bees from international sources that was not an issue for me. Three weeks ago, one queen was DOA in her cage and her rival lurked in the package. Now the rival is laying beautiful lines of brood.
No. My queenless hive was the result of a rookie mistake. Peeling back the sugar candy door on a queen cage, I had popped open the entire case and phffffffft, off she flew. Did she fly down into the dark of the hive? Of course not! She flew straight up and away into the early evening. Now my newly arrived queen cage has been carefully placed between the frames with the sugar candy door open and with every beekeeper’s hope: she will be accepted, fed and released to begin reign in her new home.
A seasoned beekeeper at a commercial apiary succinctly put to the group a very pithy observation: “When I mark a queen, I mark dozens if not hundreds. Everything you do once or twice in a season, I will do over and over, and through practice will gain skill.”
Don’t be frustrated as a new beekeeper when you make mistakes – but do learn from those mistakes. Our club meetings will continue to offer a forum for discussion of questions and concerns, from successes to outright disasters. We may not all have made the same mistake but many will be able to say I have been there too. Online courses are available this season and coupled with telephone and online mentoring the CRBA will be able to support your learning this season. Keep tabs on the website as it evolves and check in on the discussion threads on the Facebook page and certainly continue to join the monthly Zoom video sessions and small group sessions to learn as much as you can. This month we are going to be talking about the seasonality of various nectar flows in Southern Vancouver Island. There are no hard dates to adhere to but we can attune our observations and feed our bees when we have to. I look forward to “seeing” you online.