It’s not every day you get to write about the life of a queen. Usually a Queen would not let you have access to her personal kingdom, let alone try and understand the bigger picture from her existence. But this” Queen” is different from all others…..
Interestingly enough, the origin of the word ‘Queen’ in Old English actually means ‘Wife’ i.e. ‘the wife of king’. In Old Saxon it comes from the word ‘quan’ which means ‘honoured women’. The attachment of ‘Queen’ to ‘Bee’ happened in 1807 to signify the honoured position she has within the hive. Essentially she is the ‘mother’ of all bees.
From the beginning of the queen’s life she has been at the service of the community. She has worked tirelessly ensuring the continual existence of her species and our own species. She has laid six million eggs, conceived from 10-15 fleeting encounters with a group of male drones in flight. The successful mating drones actually died after mating as their reproductive organs were left attached to the queen. The next drone Bee removed the remains and continued only to his own demise. She was the owner of the occasion. The debased male drone bees that survived this encounter were rejected from the hive as they had fulfilled their purpose. They were left to wonder aimlessly into the wilderness.
But now, the effects of her royal food can no longer sustain her elongated lifespan of two years and her time is coming to an end. Her pheromones are becoming weak and she is beginning the task of laying new queen eggs into specially crafted queen cups. This queen does come from a noble lineage and it is now time to pass on the throne. It makes us wonder how far back this lineage goes.
The cells or cups will be singled out by the other worker bees and the larvae fed Royal Jelly, a protein rich secretion from the glands of the worker bees. This food will make them grow larger and give them the ability to live longer. Once the young queens hatch their destiny will unravel. Their first goal will be to search and destroy the other young potential queens. This battle might be waged between a few young queens and as the queen’s sting is not barbed they can sting as many times as they need to. They will use their battle cry! Through vibration they emit a piping and tooting noise to rally the other worker bees to their side. The successful vanquishing of the other young queens means the right to the throne of the hive. Victory ….. then the cycle starts again, one egg down, 5 million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand to go…….
For the drones, the focus of their lives is one of there lower, more bestial nature, but it will only lead to their demise, leaving part of themselves only to be discarded. Even when they attempt to knock on the door of community they may well be rejected, left only to wonder aimlessly.
For the Queen, her life is full of peril, and starts with others in her lineage wanting to harm her with their sting. Her royal jelly is to overcome those that wish her harm by becoming stronger in spirit, larger in life. She is the core of the hive, the continuation of her species. Once young in flight, light in step, she grows old gracefully, although her fragrance of influence might depreciate; she always remains in the state of servitude to her own, ready to pass on her wisdom to her next generation.
It is these qualities that earn her the title of ‘queen’.......