Never mind, I did it to myself. Yesterday, as I was checking my new hives, I discovered that the one we’ve labelled “Targaryan” has decided to put the brood in the middle super. I should maybe not have said anything about not liking that. I put the middle super down, as one does, to check the bottom, bigger one. The brood chamber was therefore right next to my ankles. Normally I don’t worry about my ankles, after all, what are the odds of a bee finding its way up under my bee suit leg? Well, good enough, because later I realized that my ankle was hurting. A lot. It was bright red and a little swollen. Ouch, huh? I developed a bit of a fever (99.6 Fahrenheit to be exact.) The fever didn’t last too long, and this morning the redness and swelling was gone, so I checked to see what was the matter. There, on my ankle, is a pattern that looks like I was attacked by a sewing machine. At least twenty stings, all in a row. Only a queen bee can do that. So, I guess I’m impressed that I managed to actually tick off a queen to the point where she’d attack me. Sorry, your majesty. I’m reasonably sure she’s still in the hive, but afraid to open it up to look lest she remember me. Queens are unique amongst bees, you see.
The queen has no barb on her stinger. The queen is the largest bee in the colony. The queen has independence, that is, within certain constraints, such as we all have, she can do what she thinks is best. Worker bees can only work, at one of three jobs basically, which they rotate up through until they die. Workers have barbed stingers, so if they sting you, they die. (Something I’ve enjoyed reminding myself about at times.) Drone bees are the only males, and they have no stingers at all. They fly out, find a queen flying around (which queens do for a week or so when first hatched,) mate with her, and die. I see why they don’t need stingers. So, a bee is harmless (drones are bigger than workers, but smaller than queens,) one ouch and done, or they’re about as good as a hornet, and you really should run. Just ask her majesty, the Queen of Targaryen.
That bee at the top is a Carniolan worker. Thousands who look just like her are living in my hives. They’re sometimes called “gray bees” due to their color. They are favored because they are not aggressive (except for some of mine apparently) and they resist insect parasite infestations, which is what took out my last hives. They also make lots and lots of honey. Her majesty and I are okay with each other, so long as I don’t disturb her brood, and she stays off of my ankles. I hope all is well with you, too!