I am very organized, so I went into this job with complete confidence.
It was simple. I wanted to replace the queen in my busiest hive. I couldn’t find her the first two times I searched, so I kept the replacement queen in a small nuc. But yesterday I found the old queen and plucked her out of the busy hive. Today I planned to introduce the new one. Piece of cake.
I was very careful not to harm the new queen. I found her among the bees in the nuc, snatched her up with the queen catcher, and carried her back to the shed where it was warm and dry. A two-minute job.
The queen muff and cage were waiting on the potting bench. I checked the cork end of the cage and put everything inside the muff. I dropped her into the cage with no trouble at all. I closed the cage very carefully so I wouldn’t harm her with the edge of the screen. Nothing to it.
I withdrew the cage from the muff. She was a big, healthy carniolan with lots of energy. I set the cage on the potting bench while I collected my hive tools. Easy as pie.
On my way out the door, I grabbed the cage . . . but it was empty! I said words that began with “What the.”
In a panic I looked around. I couldn’t figure it out. She vanished without a trace. I examined the cage and found the cork was in place but I’d failed to check the candy end. The candy was gone. On the shelf where I keep cages were ants. This time I muttered something that included the word “mother.”
Then I saw her—scurrying up the wall behind the potting bench. But the wall is a pegboard thingy with hundreds of holes in it. If one of those holes swallowed her up, it would be one expensive piece of pegboard. I pleaded as I scrambled, “Pull-ease queenie, don’t go in the [expletive deleted] holes!”
In a flash I picked her off the wall, plugged the candy end of the cage, and put everything back in the muff. But for the life of me, I couldn’t get her back in the cage. It seems she had learned about cages and was having none of it. I struggled for a long time. I was really afraid of hurting her and totally annoyed at the same time. I finally got her in just as the storm I was trying to avoid arrived in buckets. The two-minute job was now thirty. More colorful words.
In spite of the rain, I finally got queenie installed. Since there’s a cork at each end, I’ll have to go back and release her by hand. In the meantime I’ve been wondering . . . Did I really cuss this much before I became a beekeeper? Is it possible that bee venom causes linguistic atrophy?
Yes . . . I think maybe it does. It’s those *!@#$* bees!