Today being our nicest day so far I went to check on my bees when I got home from work. Of the nine hives I brought into winter, I was pretty sad to see that I had lost another, bringing the death toll up to 5. When I took out a few frames where the cluster had been, starvation was pretty apparent, and the queen was easily found so I picked her up and set her on the clipboard I use for hive records and finish checking the other hives.
When I came in I put the queen under my dissecting microscope, took out my dissecting kit and checked my hive records to see what I had written previously about food stores for this dead hive. I thought IÂ’d try dissecting her to check her spermatheca and just look at her internal and external anatomy, but under my microscope I could see the faintest twitching of a leg or antenna every little while. This I thought was just due to the sharp change in temperature or nerves or something, but the more I watched, it seamed that these twitchings were increasing in frequency. At first the twitching couldnÂ’t be seen except under the microscope, but after a while I could see just the slightest movement without it. In disbelieve I mixed up some sugar syrup and with an eyedropper I placed a drop on her mandibles. Nothing happened for a while, but then her mandibles parted and her tongue swung down slightly, not enough to tell if she was actually alive, and how could she be, coming from a dead hive during a Minnesota winter. After about half an hour being inside she righted herself and moved about a half inch and I couldnÂ’t deny she was alive. After an hour she seamed to be doing ok, and I went out and brought in the four frames of dead lifeless bees that the cluster was formed in. After warming up these started making slight movements and now after about 5 hours a lot of them a quiet active.
IÂ’m not sure how long they can make it confined in a box indoors, and they donÂ’t seam to pay any attention to the queen that I put in makeshift queen cage with a few of the workers, but IÂ’m amazed that their doing as well as they are after they had to be right on the brink of death.