Name That Queen – A Challenge

Old-Fashioned Breakfast

How lucky am I, to have honey readily available for drizzling on anything – in this case leftover cornbread, for breakfast?  I know you want some too – who wouldn’t?  Having an abundance of honey to use daily is one reason I am a bee keeper.  If my meals don’t call for honey I simply open the jar, take out a teaspoon, dip it in the liquid golden nectar and insert it into my mouth. At that moment Life is Good!

It is September, a tad late in the year for swarm calls, but yesterday I received one.  A friend knew of a swarm in a dead tree at one of our high schools.  Now, high school kids and a swarm of bees is not an agreeable situation.  The swarm is calm and collected, high school kids on the other hand….My adoring hubby and I loaded up the truck with our swarm removal tools and headed over.  We arrived to find a dead tree with a small swarm about 8 feet up in the tree.  With one hard shake the majority of the bees fell into my bucket and I dumped them into a hive body, built especially for transporting bees.  Usually I dump them onto a sheet to look for the queen, but feeling the need to rush this job along, before the dismissal bell rang sent me on a different course.  I dumped them into the hive box and said , “let’s just look for her”.  Upon first glance she made herself visible and I caught her in the queen catcher.  Success!  Now we only needed to sit back and wait for the rest of her colony to fly on into the hive box, which after about 20 minutes they did.  Wow!  I like September swarms!

The next step after removing a swarm is to place the queen and her ladies in a hive body where they will set up a new home.  With our weather still warm these girls will, I hope, have an opportunity to settle in before the cool weather arrives.  Before a bunch of bees and their queen take off in a swarm they fill their tummies with as much honey as they can hold because they know it’ll be a while until they have access to more.  When a swarm is captured they are usually pretty hungry and desiring a gentle and generous bee keeper to provide them with a home and a bit of much-needed food.  Lucky girls these, as that is exactly what I did.

This morning bright and early I went down to my apiary and removed one frame full of honey from one of my strong hives and brought it to the new hive.  I also prepared a batch of sugar syrup just for the bees and brought along a bee feeder.  The first task I  faced was to lift out the queen catcher and be sure she was still alive.  Fortunately she was just fine, surrounded by her attendants, some inside with her and some protecting her highness from the outside.  I took a few photos and then gently placed my hand down inside the hive gingerly holding the queen catcher and slowly opened it for her to walk right out, and that is precisely what she did.  Ahhh, it is a joy for a bee keeper to lay her eyes on a queen and know she is in residence.  The satisfaction of saving a colony is another reason I enjoy my hobby bee keeping.  Knowing that I a making a small contribution to saving the bees and improving our chances of having fresh fruits and vegetables available for the years ahead.

The last step was to provide some food for these patient, calm and hungry girls.  I placed the full frame of honey inside the hive body and with in seconds they were making a fast approach to the frame and beginning to eat.  It was like somebody shouted, “breakfast is ready”.  I smiled, closed up the hive and placed the feeder at the front entrance to deliver syrup for them to make into honey in their new home.  Like my friend said, “more bees – more honey”.  That’s for sure.

My last dilemma is what to name this new queen.  I name my hives, mainly to help my man Dan keep them straight when we are discussing them.  I have Queen Heidi, Queen Miracle, Queen Rita, April, Anne, Elena and Leona.  I challenge you to leave me your suggestion for a name for hive #8.  Bee keeping is nothing but problem solving and this is a problem I’d like your help with.  Any takers?  I’ll be looking forward to your submissions so bring ’em on!

Below are a series of photos to help you visualize the

process of removing and setting up a swarm.  I’ve also included some photos of the lovely donkey farm where Queen Leona and Hive #8 are located.  A delightful friend from New Zealand so kindly offered a perfect spot near her tank and a multitude of flowering plants.  The bees are quite happy here but one hive remains nameless…help!


Here is the swarm in the tree – they want a home.

Boxed up and ready to move to their new home

Waiting to be dumped into a hive body – about 2500-3000 bees

Bees checking out their new home

Brushing the bees into the hive – some of them just don’t go in as easy as others.


Queen catcher full of queens court and the queen too


The bigger bee, upside down, in the top right corner is our nameless queen.

I am about to lower the catcher down into the hive and release my queen.

The frame on the left is full of honey and nice white wax – you can see the bees beginning to notice.

An army of bees is about to visit this frame full of honey for a mid-morning feast.

All set with a front feeder to help them build up winter stores.

Room with a view.

The handsome gate leading to the bee hives. You can see them in the distance.

Hive Queen Leona and Hive Queen….

Mr. Rooster and his chickens keep everyone on their toes.

This farm has been a mini donkey farm for about 20 years.

A little honey that dripped out of a frame on the breezeway bench. The bees don’t waste anything! They had it all taken within about 15 minutes.

About The Orange Bee

Food Blogger - Bee Keeper - Mom - Wife - Lover of Life
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20 Responses to Name That Queen – A Challenge

  1. I love your blog!!! Miss not seeing you for wee school this year but The kids are doing great in school 🙂 I vote to name the bee queen Jackie because this is the land of jackrabbits 🙂

    • Hi Monica, glad to hear the kids are doing well – no surprise! Queen Jackie – Great idea but the only problem is these girls came from North High School and they aren’t rabbits…sad but true. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your suggestion – I’ll put it on the list.

  2. Well, I was going to skip breakfast, but now I want that. Wonderful photos!

  3. Promenade Claire says:

    A lovely post so interesting, I need to go and put my thinking cap on, first I need coffee !

  4. Debbie says:

    Queen Heather, no reason, just first name that popped into my head. Lol I really enjoyed this post and the pictures.

  5. Sondra Hay says:

    Remember the movie Grease? That was about life in high school and it’s star was Olivia Newton John. How about Queen Olivia?

  6. Karen says:

    Such an interesting post and photos.

  7. What a lovely job you have and can I ask what causes bees to swarm – did they just up and leave their last home?

    • can I suggest queen zipporah – she was the wife of moses and led their people to the promised land!

    • Thank you ! When bees swarm they are overcrowded or unhappy in their current condition. Even the best bee keepers occasionally loose a colony to swarming. They don’t just up and leave however, they plan it! If overcrowded they make sure they’ve made a new queen to leave behind and the old queen takes half of the colony and leaves with them. If they are unhappy they might do that or all leave! Interesting little buggers!

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