[Assam] A Rebellion of my Own

Chan Mahanta cmahanta at gmail.com
Wed May 19 06:21:13 PDT 2010

Not to make light of the struggles of the oppressed in India's  
heartland and frontiers, but I have found myself
with sort of a Maoist rebellion right here in the land of  
capitalism :-).

After a number of years of mulling, I have decided to take the plunge  
into bee-keeping this year. In February  I attended a full day
seminar on bee-keeping, while traveling in Assam in March ordered bee  
packages and queens via the internet and thereafter attended monthly
meetings, on-hands training sessions on assembling hives, comb frames,  
installing bee packages and queens into hives, periodic checking,  
feeding, pest control etc. etc. Finally on April 17 we took delivery  
of two packages of bees each weighing about 2lbs. (about 6,000 bees)  
and a queen, for two hives.
It is recommended that a newbie bee-keeper start with two hives, just  
so if one becomes dysfunctional or diseased, one can remain to  
and produce honey next year.

Immediately  installing the packages into the hive boxes, the worker  
bees go into action, drawing combs in the frames for the queen to lay  
and start building the colony with worker bees. A good queen will lay  
eggs primarily to produce the female workers and  perhaps a few DRONES  
( males)
here and there. The queen starts laying eggs within three days, the  
eggs hatch in another three, the cells are capped in eight days and  
adults emerge
in sixteen days and the colony begins to build.

Things were going quite smoothly, until, after sixteen days of  
installing the two packages in the hives, I discovered that in one of  
the hives
there were only DRONES being produced, no workers, and thus a recipe  
for imminent demise of the colony. The drone cells are distinctively  
larger than the worker cells and easily identified. It did not seem  
right, but I thought it was just a little aberration. About a week  
later an e-mail came in from our bee-keeping organization announcing  
the next seminar where an expert was going to discuss various issues,  
INCLUDING problems such as drone-laying queens and
egg-laying worker colonies.

A warning flare went up in my mind! There are such things as a  
dysfunctional queen that produces only drones ? Or a colony taken over  
by the workers
who lay their own eggs? Oh no!! Why me I thought.

Ten days after I first saw the drone cells in my hive, I re-inspected  
the defective hive to confirm that there were no worker cells, only  
drones, just before going to attend the seminar. After a number of  
questions thrown at the speakers and a re-re-inspection of the problem  
hive the next day, I confirmed that the colony
did not have a queen and that workers were laying eggs, which can only  
produce drones.

Obviously, for some inexplicable reason, the workers went into a full- 
blown rebellion, killed the queen and took over egg-laying. I had a  
Maoist rebellion on my own hands!

Now what? I thought of calling PC. But that was not a good idea. He  
would probably say-" No discussions without them first laying down  
their arms"  or recommend calling in the air-force. MMS, perhaps?  
Naah, he will probably say that there is nothing that could not be  
solved within the democratic process! No use there either.

Well, how about  Assamnet law-and-order advocates?  Any help here :-)?

Stay tuned for Chapter II.


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