Some people take longer to learn beekeeping than others. Some seem to be naturals at spotting the queen and deciphering the difference between sealed brood and capped honey. I try to help students figure out how to make it work in their minds so that it "clicks". Bobby was struggling. Couldn't see the difference between worker bees and the queen or even the queen compared to a drone. Reading the comb was just as difficult, if not more. It was frustrating for him, and me.
One day while helping him with an inspection, I spotted the queen and showed him. Big fat queen. "She's on this frame", I said. Nope, he couldn't see here. I tried to move the frame to dead center as she walked on the frame I kept moving to put her directly in front of Bobby's noise. Nope. This had been going on for months. A I took the frame with the queen on it and we moved away from the colony. I asked him if he was comfortable removing his veil. He was. He did. AND then eureka! We figured it out. It wasn't that Bobby wasn't grasping the differences it was that he couldn't SEE the differences. The mesh of the veil was blurring his vision. I see the queen! Oh look at that drone! That's a brood frame! We both were so relieved and so excited but then.......Bobby put his veil back on.
The next time I helped with an inspection I arrived to find the new and improved veil Bobby made. He took a $50 veil and cut it. But a window in it! VIOLA!
When a colony uses up all their resources and have nothing left in their own "pantry" to eat, they go "shopping" to find a full pantry.....
Actually, this is a nice way of saying it. The more correct way would be to say "hostile take-over". This usually occurs during dearth periods. A common trait in Africanized bees is to continue rearing young until they have used up all their food then search for a hive with resources to take over. Many times this is not Africanized taking over an European hive but a more aggressive colony overtaking a weaker one. Sometimes even a strong healthy one....what do the bees have to loose!
The photo below shows an Africanized Usurpation Swarm taking over a small Africanized colony that I removed a few months prior. The established colony was recovering from the removal and being fed supplements of sugar syrup and protein patty. The starving group of bees decided to take over what they had. We were out in the bee-yard working with this happened. We searched for the queen in the group of bees hanging on the outside of the box and didn't find her. We opened the established colony and found two queens on separate frames, both being balled. Since the Africanized queens were unmarked and not knowing who would win the battle out of the worker bees, we caged both queens. The queen whose workers won fed their queen while the other queen was ignored, and starved in her cage.
IF the hive being taken over was European, the marked queen would have been grabbed and put in a cage, the intruder queen killed. At this point since so many of the intruder worker bees had entered there was no separating the bees back. The European queen would need to stay in the cage as if she was being introduced to the colony. So always remember to keep your European queens marked.