Queen bee, stress, and the honeybee hierarchy

Queen bee, stress, and the honeybee hierarchy
There's a stir over the sudden decline in honeybee colonies. Bee experts are mystified as to why. They say there could be a number of reasons, including stress.

Speaking of stress – consider the fate of the queen bee.

From outside the honeybee colony looking in, queen bee appears to be high and mighty. She sits up and away from the noise, above the busy bees, separate from the crowd. She has her own room in the castle, along with her own delightful view, and her own delicious menu. Queen bee is in command, or so it seems.

Beginning at the larvae stage, queen bee is robed in jeweled honor, given a spacious crib, fed royal jelly, and pampered beyond belief.

When the colony is moved to new regions, she rides in a privileged carriage, set apart from worker bees.

Take a closer look at her crown and see queen bee surrounded by thousands of her loyal subjects – they follow her everywhere.

While queen bee is the most valued member of her colony, she does not govern. She is fed and groomed by worker bees but rarely gets out. She spends most of her time laying eggs inside the hive.

She doesn't fly much, either. In fact, she hardly uses her wings.

In reality, queen bee lives a life of imprisonment. Upon reaching midlife, a little weathered around the edges, she finds herself in the hardest place of all – she is no longer needed.

This is when the entire colony gets all riled up and rules against her. If she does not die or leave on her own accord, the new queen will do her in. Speaking of stress …

A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her column writing has won first-place national and state awards in The Federation of Press Women competitions. For more information, e-mail pauladamon@iw.net.

� 2007 Paula Damon

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