After school I shifted my mind into the mode of an assassin. I took on the persona of cold, calculating, methodical and ruthless. I was on a mission; the queen must die.

In the beginning of our relationship I had worried and fretted over her and I feared that my inspection might have killed or damaged her. The whole hive hinges around the queen and her health. But now she had given us two healthy queenly daughters and I have a mind to take her away from her bees and give them to one of the other hives; the weak hive.

Uniting two hives is said to be a very unnatural thing to do with bees, but it is necessary. One of the hives here at the cottage is so very weak and not moving along with enough pace. It does not even seem to be taking any feed down. However, it does have a young and mated queen. The idea is to take the hive and a stronger hive and place a sheet of newspaper between them. They sense each other and begin to eat through the paper with a mind set on fighting. The theory is that, by the time they have actually eaten through the paper, the smells mix enough for them to begin to forget who is the enemy and who is friend. The only problem left is the two queens. One school of thought is that they fight to the death and the best one wins. The risk is that the winner is damaged and the bees kill her anyway. The other school of thought is that you kill the queen you don’t want yourself. This was the mind I had when I arrived at the hive of Grelder. Grelder the witch

The last time I had looked in the hive was while I was stealing honey. I had been feeding them quite a lot, but had not actually looked in since the thieving. The first frame was heavy with stores, then more stores, then stores again, stores, stores and stores. I went through the hive twice and never saw Grelder. I saw no baby bees or larvae, or eggs. Not a single trace of evidence of Grelder at all. Had she passed away? That would be nice (assassin mode here) but it is more likely that she was hiding as she is a sneaky old witch.

The hives are together now. We tried the Independent to keep them apart, then the Belfast Telegraph. In the end, only the Times was big enough to cover the space. I guess they just that kind of bee. They are in the garden here at the cottage and the noise from them is heavy with the thirst for fighting. Only a thin leaf of broadsheet is keeping them apart. It could all end in tears, but I admit that to minimise them getting too upset I made sure it was not from the sports section. I hate the sports section. Teams play games; big deal!

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