Recently, I tagged along with my beekeeping mentor as he completed some hive inspections in a few of his bee yards. We inspected some of his spring splits. Splits are made from large colonies in the spring by dividing the hive into two and introducing a new queen to the half who would now be queen-less. Bees will do this on their own, that's why the swarm; they don't like overly cramped quarters and that's exactly what the hive in the last photo above is preparing to do.
We searched for the new queen in each split and marked them so they can easily be spotted. There is an international colour coding system in order to determine the age of the queen. As queens are typically replaced every couple of years at most, five colours are used so that each the last digit of each year as its own colour. Years ending in 3 or 8 use the colour red. Bill decided to use pink rather than red as it stands out a little bit more which is a handy thing when you're searching for a queen among thousands of bees.
Their intelligence, know-how and hard work should garner the respect of everyone. They certainly have mine. Here's is a video of that hive about to swarm, you'll see one bee appear to shake her 'tail' faster than the other bees. She's doing a waggle dance; bees dance to communicate many things to their hive mates, from a new found source of pollen to alerting to possible threats of danger. In this case, she's telling them she's found a great new location that they can all move to. Something along the lines of, "Pack your bags girls, I've found us the cutest little apartment and you won't believe the rent!"
Take a look for yourself, can you spot the bee doing her waggle dance?
~Bee well friends