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By Lawrence John Connor

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The approximately 5 to 6 million sperm migrate into a tiny sperm storage organ (spermatheca), a sphere not much larger than the head of a pin, where they Drone separation by genital explosion. remain for the queen’s life. indd 57 57 6/14/10 1:48:32 PM Reproduction within Colonies Queens have the option of fertilizing each egg as it is being laid. Almost all eggs are fertilized and are laid in worker-bee cells. During the active season, queens typically lay around 1,200 eggs daily. Worker bees are female and develop from egg to adult in approximately twenty-one days, at which time they chew their way out of the captive cells These worker eggs, enveloped by an ethereal view of the hexagonal cell openings, are stuck on end when they are laid and gradually lean over until they hatch three days later, revealing larvae almost too small to see without magnification.

Frequent or excessive disturbances can cause the other bees to kill the queen (the reason for this behavior is unknown). If you have the burning curiosity requisite for becoming a good beekeeper, you’ll probably take a chance and sneak a peek during the “private time” to see what is happening. Be gentle, use the least amount of smoke to control the bees, and don’t keep the hive open very long. About four weeks after establishing the colony, you should find eggs and larvae— proof that your new queen is present and performing as expected.

Place the super of partially filled combs on the bottom board. Spread the frames apart to provide at least double bee space between the combs. Scratch any capped cells to expose the honey. Now place a queen excluder on top of the super to prevent access by the queen. Place the two brood chambers, and any additional honey supers, above the queen excluder and replace the lid. Caution: be sure to cover the entrance with a robbing prevention screen because the honey fragrance is highly attractive to robber bees.

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