A new queen bee has been crowned at Lindsay Wildlife Museum. Two queen bee eggs have been in development in the Hive Alive! exhibit for weeks, being fed royal jelly by female worker bees. A new queen has now emerged, mated with male bees in the outside world, and started laying thousands of eggs in the living hive’s hexagonal cells. (The queen is marked with a white dot to make her easier to find in the hive.)
Hive Alive! was specially designed and constructed for Lindsay Wildlife Museum by beekeeper Mike Stephanos, who takes care of the bees and their hive. Two years in the making, the exhibit showcases the live, working hive inside a ¾” thick plexiglass housing. This lets visitors of all ages get an extreme close-up look at the thousands of mesmerizing bees as they dance, make honey and tend to the queen’s eggs. The observational hive is cosponsored by the Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association.
The former queen bee abdicated during a spring swarm, taking half the hive’s bees with her in an instinctual action to prevent overcrowding. Leaving the museum via the exhibit’s plexiglass bee corridor to the outside world, the old queen and her court buzzed off to establish a new hive somewhere else.
The bees come and go constantly according to their own secret signals—bee dance moves— that tell the colony where to find nectar, and how to get back to the hive inside the museum. Believed to be pollinating flowers and trees in Larkey Park where Lindsay Wildlife Museum is located, and even further afield, the bees carry pollen back to the hive in basket-like structures on the joints of their legs. The hive’s honey is not collected, but eaten by the Hive Alive! bees themselves. The bees are so neat and tidy that the hive is virtually maintenance-free, says Stephanos.
Lindsay Wildlife Museum members will celebrate the Hive Alive! exhibit’s first anniversary at the family-friendly BEE BOP! event, Friday, August 16 from 5-8 PM. Museum members of all ages can party with the pollinators and celebrate bees, birds and butterflies that pollinate our world. Activities will include “bee dancing,” crafts and activities, and learning from beekeepers how bees do what they do.
Located in Walnut Creek’s Larkey Park, Lindsay Wildlife Museum connects people with wildlife to inspire responsibility and respect for the world we share. The museum is a unique natural history museum, wildlife rehabilitation hospital, and environmental education center where wild live animals are just inches away from visitors. Lindsay Wildlife Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday; general admission is $7/adults, $6/senior 65+, $5/children 2-17 and free for members and children under 2 years old. More information is available at wildlife-museum.org.