Like a virgin

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So, good news/bad news. Bad news: the queen in my hive at Arlington Farms ceases to be. How do I know? I found some gnarly-looking queen cells while inspecting the hive a few days ago.

Man, was I bummed. 

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But glad to see the bees have already been hard at work to raise a new queen. Which leads me to my good news. See that weirdo bee on the left? She’s a virgin queen. I say “a” and not “the” because there can be several at once. 

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When a young virgin queen emerges from a queen cell, she will generally seek out virgin queen rivals and attempt to kill them. 

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The surviving virgin queen will fly out on a sunny, warm day (probably today) and mate with 12-15 drones. She’ll store up to 6 million sperm so she can continue to lay eggs for the rest of her life– about 2,000 eggs /more than her own bodyweight in eggs every day.

If all goes well, we should see some eggs and baby bees in 4-6 weeks. Long live the queen.