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This morning, I was off catching guys.

Today’s morning was spent outside, catching guys. One of them ended up in my pocket for a while, and then got a number glued to his back.

Have I confused you yet?

I was off to the next practical lesson in how to keep bees – and today’s programme for our group was to check two hives for queen brood cells (to see if there’s danger of swarming) and to catch a drone or two, to learn how to grab and mark a bee (so you can handle the queen, if necessary, without damage to her).

The not-so-willing subjects for this were drones, because a) they have no stinger, and b) the hive can stand to lose a few of the drones, who are not doing any of the hive work (except helping to keep it warm). So each of us in the group got to catch a drone bee and put it into a little cage to keep it safe for a while. (The cage then went into a pocket to keep the little bee warm.) After we’d finished checking the hives, we went off to practice marking queens – on the drones.

When you have a hive queen, it gets a little sticker on the back of the thorax. The sticker colour marks the year the queen is from, so you can tell how old the Grande Dame of the bee-hive is (which is rather important, since they live only for so long). There’s special tools for holding the bee while you put a little bit of (special) glue on the thorax and then gently push the sticker onto the glue, which makes it much easier to do this (I’d have imagined it to be more difficult). Obviously you don’t want to damage a young queen when marking it, so it makes sense to practice with drones beforehand, just like with the gripping.

To my inordinate joy, when my turn came up to stick a little green plaque onto the back of my little furry drone, one very special number was still available:

bee-42

Meet Mr. The Answer, with his shiny new plaque stuck smack dab to the middle of his thorax. (And yes, I’m easily amused.)

 

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