It has been a few days interrupted by storms since Annabelle cast her swarm and Beatrix still stands unoccupied. We are resigned that the swarm, Annabelle-At-Large, will not be back and wish her well wherever she has chosen to settle. That allows all our worries to focus on the remaining diminished colony, Annabelle-At-Home. We fretfully scrutinize all her usual behavior for signs of queenlessness or threat of afterswarm whereupon she puzzles us with unusual behavior.

Bees on the hive stand crossbar

Bees on the hive stand crossbar

Wednesday afternoon we were surprised to see drones crawling on the ground in front of the hive, as if evicted. The girls must feel there is not enough nectar entering the hive although we can see them bringing pollen. It has certainly not been dry enough for a dearth and the milkweed is beginning to bloom.

Looking for the drones again later that day we saw only one but our attention was caught by a small group of bees on the rear of the crossbar of the hive stand. We have seen isolated bees rest on the face of the hive or the roof. This was an unusual location and the bees did not seem to be resting but rather somehow fussing over one of their number.

Queen and court outside the hive

Queen and court outside the hive

Looking more closely we saw that one was a queen and the others were tending her although we could not tell exactly how. Nor could we tell if she was leaving the hive to be mated or returning afterwards. We wished to help but concluded that in our ignorance we should simply leave them alone. A few hours later she and her court were no longer in evidence. And so, not even certain whether we should be encouraged by having seen the young queen, we return to simply watching Annabelle and fretting.

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