Tag Archives: Gertrudabelle

A Great day for Bugging Bees

Yesterday I went through all 4 of my hives for a little check and some maintenance and my brave photographer with no protective suit came with me to capture the events.





And then I went into my oldest hive, Gertrudabelle, which I think requeened themselves last July so it is not the original Gertrudabelle that I spotted. But she is beautiful with her long rump and her swaying hips. Perfect for birthing and she is quite the laying queen. Behold, Royalty!



Gertrudabelle’s hive is 5 supers tall, which means there are quite a lot of bees in that hive. If I were to venture a guess, I would approximate 80,000 bees. I haven’t seen this queen in ages because there are just so many bees. But I picked up this frame, saw there were eggs on it, which look like tiny pieces of string at the bottom of each comb, and I thought, oo maybe Gerty is around here. And there she was. I grabbed the camera and photographed her like the paparazzi.

I hope you are getting some sunshine wherever you are at and enjoying it as much as we are here!

Pulling a “Marie Antoinette”


To the left, you have Gertrudabelle hive. I got her last year and she has been a good and faithful hive. I have learned many things from Gertrudabelle. She has taught me that bees will survive with less than 100 pounds of honey through a winter with only one box, even if it snows for 3 weeks solid. She has taught me that when you put a queen excluder on your honey box, to check that the queen is where you want her, or she’ll lay in your honey super. She also taught me that taking frames of honey and then leaving them out over night in the open inspires spontaneous piracy.

To the right, we have Wilheimina hive. Wilheimina has been doomed from the get go. We picked her up in Victoria, and we picked her up on a very hot day. She was in a nuc box that did not have very good ventilation and the ferry workers missed the memo to put us in the shade since we were carrying “livestock” on the ferry. When I got her home, I tipped the box upside down to dump the bees out and all that fell out was a pile of dead bees. It was like shaking a honeybee holocaust out of a box. It was heartbreaking. I still have a mass grave behind the mint plant. Because of this genocide, the hive has been weak from the beginning. Weak = Wilheimina.

I have been eyeing their progress closely and trying to feed them lots of sugar syrup to build them up. Alas, they would not have survived the winter. So today I did the inevitable. I’ve been putting it off and putting it off. It could not be delayed any longer. I had to do the regretable. I had to pull a “Marie Antoinette.”

I finished my bee rounds, checking on all the hives first. I delayed and procrastinated. Finally, I went down to the hive, armed with my hive tool. I found Wilheimina, who was aptly minding her own business, laying eggs, being fed, being groomed by her attendance. I scooped her out of the hive, and crushed her head on the wooden pallet beside the hive.


Now there is a Wilheimina-shaped hole in the universe.

The Wilheimina hive was almagamated into the Cleopatra hive at the Community Garden. This will significantly increase the chances of winter survival for both hives. It was regretable that the queen had to be sacrificed but necessary for bee survival.

So, for the greater good, Wilheimina paid the ultimate price. I’ve never felt so sad about the death of a bug.

ps) bees

As to an update to my honeybees, I went into my hive with Gertrudabelle M.I.A last week so I put a frame of brood from another hive in it, in the hopes that the hive would raise itself a new queen.

Well I checked on it yesterday and the bees are good little mothers/sisters and raised the eggs into regular brood. *sigh* But, two frames over I found two queen cells clinging to the bottom of the frame, stuffed full with Royal Jelly, which means they are raising a new Queen. Good little bees. It also means that if I hadn’t interfered, they would have replaced the Queen and I wouldn’t have even known about it. Funny how the bees seem to know what’s best for them eh?

Also, I’ve named all the hives but one and I need your help naming them. I name them Queenly names and I try to have the first letter of their name be something I can remember to do with their placement. For example, I have a hive named Lucy, because she is to the Left of two hives. And Rapunzle is to the Right.

So I have my big hive that I started last year I named Gertrudabelle. My weak hive right now is called Wilheimina.

My hive at the community garden needs a name. And I would like it to start with “C” I think.

Any ideas?