Hey there, Lady Biznatches! Today’s episode is on a topic that’s been a long time coming—beekeeping! How have I not talked about this yet?
Tune in to hear me give you the 101 on what this hot, hard, expensive, and sometimes violent hobby entails. I also share my upcoming Taylor Swift DJ gig, thoughts on snoring, and how I got all my bees from Logan Square to Evanston.
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Music. Welcome to All Up In My Lady Business. I am your host, Mary Nisi. On this podcast, I'll explore the fine line between having it together and losing your shit. Here, I share my journey as an entrepreneur, a mom, a wife, a DJ, and randomly a beekeeper. I have no shame and no filter except the ones I use on Instagram. My stories of resilience, a little structure, and a lot of resourcefulness can show you how to take those same things and live your life with your whole ass. Thanks for listening. Music. And we are on. All right. I just took a sip of some limited edition kombucha, if anybody wants to sponsor me on the kombucha front. Let's get into it. What a day. You are such a doll for tuning in today to All Up In My Lady Business. Thanks so much for tuning in. I am your host, Mary Nisi, and I am going to be dropping a lot of lessons today. Let's see. Okay, so what's going on with me this week? Well, on Monday, I was in my kitchen minding my own business, just chillaxing, and my niece Sabrina texted me that Taylor and Joe broke And when I tell you that I gasped so loud that John was like, what, what, what, did Biden die? Or something along those lines. I don't know if I've made it clear the weird parasocial relationship that I have with Taylor Swift. And it would be embarrassing if I didn't have so many friends of all genders that are my age and some of them are older and some are younger that feel the exact same way. So I don't feel very weird about it. I've already bought my outfit for the Friday night show And it's a lot of sequins. And I haven't bought my Saturday Night Show yet, because I do have tickets to both the Friday on the Saturday Night Show, and I'm trying. To get the Sunday show. My friend Michelle has a ticket to Sunday's show, but she's already promised to somebody else and I'm kind of hoping that that person decides they don't want to go. I'm not going to wish any ill on them, but I do want that ticket, Michelle, if you're listening. Anyway, if you're in Chicago the week of the show, I am going to be live DJing an all-Taylor Swift yoga class at the Yoga View in Bucktown. That's going to be on June 1st with my friend Kate Kate Gisborne, who's going to be teaching it, there will be a link to buy tickets to do the class and the show notes. But anyway, I'm a weirdo for Taylor, and I'm kind of irritated that she still hasn't addressed the rumors about the breakup. She had a show last night in Tampa, and by all the videos that I saw on Instagram this morning, she did seem a bit sad. Just projecting that onto her. I think that because I think we are friends, I'm owed an explanation, and I want her to be happy, but I do feel like I need more information and I don't like this feeling like she's holding out on us, but it is bothering me really. It makes me sad that they broke up. I had like high hopes for their love. Yeah, how about you? Okay, so let me rewind a little bit. So I come from a long line of snorers. The nieces have a robust epiglottis or something. And like a couple years ago, I did like a sleep study, like where they sent me a thing I put it on and slept in it and then they were like, yeah, you've got mild apnea. And I had this horrible procedure done called a balloon sinoplasty where they put balloons up inside your nose and like expand them and it like cracks your nose and makes it bigger so it will make it so that you can not snore enough, not snore at night. And it was a horrible procedure. Like when I got it done, they're like, yeah, you can drive yourself. You can totally drive yourself. And so I totally drove myself. Actually where I went, anybody in Chicago, I got it done at at that nose.com. There's an ad they always have on the radio that it goes, breathe well, the simple solution. And so I went to at that nose.com. That's where I got it done. Anyway, they said that I could drive myself. And I drove myself and I should not have driven myself. This was actually in the early days of the pandemic. This was like in July of the pandemic year of 2020. And I had the procedure done. And then I left and I was driving down the street. I had a mask on. And I was like, Oh, look, there's a Starbucks. I could choose a coffee. So I go to the Starbucks and I walk in the door and I order a coffee. And I get back and person behind the counter would give me a crazy look. I'm like, whatever, it's the pandemic. Everyone deserves crazy looks. And then I got back in my car and looked in the rearview mirror and there was blood all over the front of my mask. Anyway, I had that procedure done and apparently it worked for a little bit, but not really. And I still have like weird side effects with like boogers in one of my nostrils. Have I mentioned I'm a hot, sexy lady? Anyway, so apparently, John told me in January, he's like, it sounds like you're dying in your sleep again. And when I wake up in the morning, I don't feel like I slept very well, even though I fall asleep and I'm a good sleeper. Like I fall asleep around, you know, 930, 10, and then I wake up at 630 or whatever. I sleep through the night. I don't have any problems, whatever. But I don't feel like I really slept very well. Part of that is because Sebastian comes into our room every single fucking night. Them. Anyway, so last night, I actually went and did a sleep study at a place called the Center for Sleep Medicine or something in Glenview, and I rolled up there at 9.30. I was already in my pajamas. As I was leaving, John's like, where's your toiletry bag? And I'm like, bitch, I already got ready for bed. I put pajamas on. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, moisturized, then went there, got there at 9.30. They take you into a room that kind of looks like a sad hotel room, and they wired me up, and I had like electrodes all over my head and on my chest and they put them on my legs to test for restless leg syndrome, which I'm probably gonna regret saying this on a microphone, but I don't think restless leg syndrome is a real thing. I think it's because people don't exercise as much as they should and they don't drink enough water. But that could just be me being judgmental about thing I see ads for on television for the drugs for it. But anyways, they wired me up and then I got a remote control for a TV that only had like basic television on it. So I watched a little bit of Colbert And then I fell asleep. And then I woke up at 2 o'clock in the morning to her waking me up because there was a thing on my finger, like an oxygenator or something. And that had fallen off in my sleep. So she put that back on me. And then at 5 o'clock in the morning, she just came. And she's like, all right, wake up. And it was the deepest sleep I have been in so long. And they unwired me. And my hair was full of this gross paste. And then they sent me off into the world to drive home at 5 o'clock in the morning. And then I got home and got back into bed. Anyway, that happened. I hope I don't have to get a CPAP because there's nothing that says your life is about to be over like wearing a CPAP to bed. Ideally, I'm gonna get this mouth guard. Anyway, that's my life. How sexy is your life? I'm just a fun, flirty, sexy lady is what it basically is. Oh yeah, a little more kombucha. I actually don't even know that this brand is called GT's. Synergy, Synergy the brand? Yeah, I guess it's Synergy, GT Synergy. Actually never, I don't know, I had a gun to my head. And someone was like, name the kombucha company that you always get kombucha from. I don't think I could pull GT's Synergy out of my ass. So I have been asking people to chime in about what kind of topics I was gonna be covering here on the podcast. And my friend, Mark, loyal listener, always pops up in my DMs to give me props and say nice things about podcasts, which I really, really appreciate. I think I'm going to start referring to my fans, my loyal listeners, as lady biznatches. It's kind of like lady whistledown, but it's not a secret. And I think we're going to try to make that happen. You are guys are my lady biznatches. Is that a thing? It's going to be. Anyway, he asked me why I haven't talked about beekeeping yet. And I realized that I teased that in my intro since I started this podcast and never talk about it. So here we are. This is going to be the long awaited, oh, just so anticipated. Beekeeping episode here on All Up In My Lady Business. So one of the things I want to lead with is that there's a saying in beekeeping, and that is if you ask 10 beekeepers a question, you will get 20 different answers. People who are beekeepers are kind of a cranky lot of people, and they are opinionated, and there's no consensus in beekeeping. So I'm going to say a bunch of stuff in this episode that someone's going to be like, that's not right. Or you're going to find some evidence on the internet that refutes whatever I'm saying. It could be right. I don't care. I like the way I think about beekeeping. And I probably am right. Just somebody doesn't think I'm right. And if we've learned anything, the truth doesn't matter. So what got me into beekeeping? Okay, so John, my husband, has a saltwater aquarium. And it's his life, his love, his lady. He loves his saltwater aquarium. And he has... I don't. Know if I've talked about this, but when John and I were signing the paperwork on our house, We didn't live together until we got engaged slash bought a house. And we're literally in the closing and John signs the last signature on the paperwork and he goes, I'm going to get a saltwater aquarium. And I had never heard him say the word saltwater aquarium to me at any point during the previous four years of dating. And I'm like, saltwater aquarium, you've never mentioned this. And saltwater aquariums are for dentist's office and bachelor pads. I don't know how a saltwater aquarium is going to work with my aesthetic. And he's like, it's okay. You'll never have to deal with it. I've never had to deal with it, but it started off as like a little 30-gallon tank, and he like killed and brought that thing back to life so many times. But it's like a daily science project, and I am not a science person. Like if John dies, the tank's going with him, unless Sebastian has somehow figured out how to make it work. But anyway, so that tank has been his whole deal. And one time we were walking through Christy Weber, which is a really wonderful gardens shop in Chicago, and they had beekeeping supplies. And I walked past it, I was like, oh, beekeeping supplies, that seems kind of cool. And John filed that away in his noggin and then. Got me a whole hive for Christmas. I had never expressed... I never was like, I'd like to figure out how to do that. I was just like, Oh, it seems like cool. But John buys me for Christmas, a whole hive, a smoker, beekeeping outfit, hive tools. And he had ordered me a three pound box of bees that was going to be delivered in April. So I had three months, all of Q1 2017 to figure out how to be a beekeeper. And I got beekeeping for dummies, which is actually seen as one of the best beekeeping guides. I joined a bunch of Facebook groups and a bunch of Instagram, followed the hashtag, you know, lady beekeepers or whatever. And I kind of figured out how to be a beekeeper. Okay, so I get all my shit together and I get all my stuff and the bees are gonna come. And in the meantime, John's sister had moved to Japan for a year. And so we had planned a trip to go to Japan to visit her and to visit Japan in general. And the bees were delivered the day that we went to Japan. And this was the beginning of so much bee drama that I have been dealing with since now. This is my seventh year, I think. Seventh or sixth or seventh, I think my seventh year. So my sister and a friend of mine, like watched some YouTube videos and they agreed to go to the beekeeping place, which is called The Hive, and pick up my bees and then install them for me. And so they do that. It's like the nicest thing in the world to do that, because I don't know many people who would just install bees in a beehive for somebody. They installed it, and they did a good job of it, but then while we were gone there was like a freak blizzard, and I hadn't set the hive up correctly, and I got back from Japan and all the bees were dead. And so, this was the beginning, so I got to redo the whole thing. I got to do the whole process again. So that's one of the things about beekeeping, as with most things, is that you have to make mistakes. And especially with me, the way I learn, I'm a trial-by-fire person, and so I had to get more bees and I had to learn how to do it myself. So how do bees come? That is one of the questions I get a lot when I tell people that I keep bees. So when you – there's a couple ways you can get bees. One is the original way I got them was the three-pound box of bees. It's about maybe two feet by one foot box. It's screened. And there's three pounds of bees in there. And then inside that box of bees is a queen cage, which is a little box. It's about the size of two matchboxes put together. It's a really a really little box with a screen and it's got a queen and some attendant bees in there. And the bees that are in the box are not that queen's bees, if you're following me. So they took, you know, three pounds of bees from another hive. That queen is put in the hive with the queen cage. When you get the box of bees, you pry off the top of it, you take out the queen cage, set it aside, you shake those bees into the hive. Like you literally just it's very violent looking. You just like you just dump them out and just shake them. In. And then the queen cage has a cork on it. And sometimes you pull the cork out and sometimes the cork has candy in there. And sometimes it doesn't. If it doesn't have candy, you have to shove a marshmallow or fondant or something, some kind of sweetness into the cage because you put the fondant in and then you put the cage in between some frames in the hive. And then the bees that are in that hive eat the queen out of the box by eating the candy out, and that releases the queen. That takes about three days. And in that time, the queen is spreading her pheromones around, like in the hive, so that those bees will accept that queen as their leader, as their queen. So in three days, the bees eat the queen out of the cage, the queen gets released in, and then she starts laying eggs. And the bees that she lays are obviously her bees, and then those bees that are in the hive are already acclimating to her. So that's a three-pound box of bees. The other way you can get bees is a nuc or a nucleus hive, which is a box of three to five frames and those bees on that frame are all those queen's bees. So it's three frames of brood that that queen. Made. If you're not following me, whatever, this is all getting, I'm getting a little bit in the weeds, but hopefully you guys are following. So after the storm killed that first round of bees, I got my hive set up correctly and then I got a nuc and then I I put the nuke in, and I had a wonderful summer. I put the nuke in, things start happening. The queen is laying, I'm going in, I'm doing my inspections. And my first mentor was this woman named Marina. She worked at Christie Weber, and you really need to have a mentor when you're doing beekeeping. It's really hard to just go in blind and try to figure it out, because there's so much stuff you have to pick up on. So Marina would come over and do my inspections with me, and at one point, about a month and a half into that first year, Marina comes over, And the bees were so aggressive. We both got stung like 20 times each. It was insane. It was really tough. Like at the end of that inspection, I was like, I don't know if I want to do this anymore. Like this is really hard, but I'm already like so pot committed with the gear and the bees and the saving of the planet. So after that inspection, I go back in like two weeks later and I can't find any eggs. And what you're doing when you are doing inspections in the hive, like when beekeepers go in and what we're looking for is to make sure that there is a queen. That is laying eggs. So you're looking for all three stages of brood and that would be the egg stage, so eggs that the queen has laid. The larval stage, which is when they get bigger, like they grow into, they look like these little worms, these little gross worms. And then the pupa stage, which is when another bee comes along and caps them inside of the cell. And then the bee eats their little way out of the cell and that's when they become, they're born, you know, like an adult. Bee. So I'd gone in to look for eggs, and I couldn't find them. And I called Marina, or I texted Marina, and she's like, I'm out of the country. And so then I was like, well, I need help here. I don't know what I'm doing. And so I had been hearing about this woman, Jana Kinsman, who has a company here in Chicago called Bica Bee. And so I called her, and she came over. And now we're like besties now. And she's a wonderful beekeeper. She does all the beekeeping. She does a lot of beekeeping in Chicago. And she's just one of the coolest people in the world. So she comes over, and we walk up to the hive, and she sees that there's There's a queen dead, like twitching about to die outside of the entrance to the hive. And she's like, whoa, that's not good. And what we came to realize is the hive had requeened itself. And I'll get more into that later on. So we go in and do the inspection. And we found the queen that lived. And she had a bee penis hanging out of her butt. And Jana, being the badass that she is, she pulled the bee penis out of her body. And then I went back in a week later and she was laying. It was fine. That had never happened to Jana before. That happens to me a lot with me and Jana is that I have done a lot of things in my hive that Jana's never seen before, which is par for the course with me. I always have shit that happens to me that happens to nobody else. But that year, I wound up getting like 35 pounds of honey out of that hive that first year. So yeah, what does it take to be a beekeeper? So it's a lot of hot, hard work. It is really hot, hard work. So when you become a really experienced beekeeper, they do it with like, most of them will always wear a veil so their face doesn't get stung, but expert big Jana, good beekeepers, they don't wear the beekeeping outfits and they don't wear gloves. And I'm just not there yet. I don't know if I'll ever get there. I don't necessarily want to get that badass. It's good to beekeep without gloves on and I have tried to do it. I've done it a couple of times. I've been successful doing it gloveless a couple of times, but I've gotten stung on my hands and hand stings are bad. Although I've gotten stung so much now I don't have a reaction, but so I guess it would be be okay if I... But the reason why they want you to go gloveless is because you're going to be more gentle, with everything if you don't have gloves on. When you have gloves, you might be a little more aggressive with the hive than you should be. So, when you're doing an inspection, looking for the brood in all three stages, egg, larval, and pupa, you're looking to make sure there's a queen. You're looking for signs of disease and infestation. You're making sure that the ratio of workers to drones is good. And that's workers are the female bees, drones are the male bees. And in terms of size, the queen is the long, beautiful bee that they oftentimes have in beautiful drawing. When they show the queen bee, she has a long abdomen. And the workers are the tiny bees that you're used to seeing. And then drones are a little bit bigger than the workers, and you probably haven't seen much in terms of drone bees. So male bees are kind of useless in the hive. Male bees, all they do is eat and wait for a queen to be born so they can go have sex with it. And when a drone has sex with a queen bee, they die. And that is because they come at 80 miles per hour, and when they come, their penis falls off. They basically explode when they come, and then the queen's filled with their semen. We'll get more into that later on. But they don't have a stinger, and so they can't protect the hive. They are big, so they eat more than everybody else. And literally all they do is just hang out and eat. The workers do, you know, everything else in the hive. And then there's only one queen in a hive. So the honeycomb, like what you see when you think of honeycomb, not only is it where the honey is stored, but that's the worker comb. So workers are born in that tight hexagonal cell that you associate with bees. Drone comb, it looks like kick cereal. It's like a bit puffier. And then the queen cell is about one inch long and has like a rough surface texture and it's shaped like a peanut shell. And so there's three types of honeycomb, you know, bee comb, that makes the bees. And so when the gender of the bee is determined by the type of cell that the queen is putting the egg into, and I will explain that now, so the queen is walking through the hive and she'll take her back legs and she feels to see what type of comb it is. And if she feels that it's the tight, regular comb that you normally think of when you think of a beehive, she puts in an egg and some sperm. She's got two tubes inside of her. One puts out an egg and one puts out sperm. And that makes a worker bee. If she feels the comb and it is the big puffy drone comb, then she will just put out an egg. And the egg is an unfertilized egg that makes a drone. So drones are unfertilized queen DNA only. So all drones are a replicant of the queen. There's no semen in there, okay? So it's just the egg that is making a drone. So drones are only. Furthering that queen's DNA. The worker is sperm and egg, so she's getting the DNA from an outside drone. And then for the queen, for queen cells, when there's gonna be a queen, so there's two different ways that a queen can get made. One is supersedure and the other one is a swarm. So a swarm, when you think of a swarm of bees, so one of the main things you're also doing as a beekeeper is you're making sure that there is enough space in hive for the queen to keep laying eggs and for the bees to be bringing back nectar and pollen to be stored in the cells. Once a box of a super is what we call them, once a super gets 70% full, you have to put another box on there that ideally already has frames in there that have drawn comb in them, like old comb from the previous year. But if not, then the bees have to make the comb. And it takes a lot of energy and a lot of work to make comb. So you want to make sure that you're preserving it for as well as you can year after year. And so if you're not inspecting enough, you're not recognizing how much space they have, and they start running out of space, that is what triggers a swarm. So a swarm, when they do a swarm, what the bees do is they'll make these swarm cups at the bottom of a frame. So a frame is a rectangle. And at the bottom of the frame, they'll put like, you know, five to seven swarm cells. And so the queen will actively lay in swarm cells. So she'll put eggs into the swarm cells and then if they're going to make a queen, they only feed it royal jelly. The nurse bees only feed it royal jelly. If they keep feeding it royal jelly, that will turn into a queen. When the nurse bees are feeding worker bees, they feed them royal jelly for three days. Then after that, they feed them pollen and nectar. So with the swarm cells, the queen takes 14 days to gestate. Are 22 and drones are 20. Or 30 or so. I can't remember. So with the swarm cells, they're like, okay, when the queen fills up a swarm cell, she's basically saying, we got to get out of here. There's not enough space and I need to go. So what they do is they make the swarm cells and then the queen actually doesn't feed herself or take her poop away. Like she's got bees that actually feed her and take away her poop. The ones that are feeding her, they stop feeding her for five days because when the queen is in egg laying mode, she's the biggest she's going to be. And the queen lays a thousand eggs a day. Like 1,000 to 2,000 depending upon who you talk to. So she's got a lot of stuff inside of her in addition to whatever beefiness she's gotten from being fed. So for five days they starve her so that she's small enough and light enough to be able to fly. And right before the swarm cells are going to hatch, the queen takes off with half of her workers, and they go try to find someplace else to live. And when you see a swarm of bees, those bees are docile. Those bees are not willing to attack. Honeybees will only attack you if you are fucking with them or if you are threatening their food source. When you see a swarm of bees, they're just looking for a place to go, like a retirement home. So they're off trying to find a place to live that has space for the queen to lay eggs and to have a place to put the honey. And so what you're trying to do when you are beekeeping is you're trying to make sure there's enough space for them and they won't swarm. And in fact, one of the things you're also doing as a beekeeper is you're scraping off those swarm cells at the bottom. You're trying to eliminate the desire and the space to swarm. So when you're inspecting, you actively try to prevent swarming by them, taking that away. Thanks for tuning in to All Up In My Lady Business. If you're looking for something fun to do on a Monday from 12 until 3 p.m. In central standard time, you can tune into the Noonday Underground, my radio show on TripRadio.org. Every Monday, I am there to get you through your lunchtime into the early afternoon. And it's sort of like this podcast, but with way less talking and a lot more dope. Tune in to ChirpRadio.org on Mondays from 12 until 3, and if you go to my bio at ChirpRadio.org, on the DJ's page, you can find an archive of the last two episodes that I DJed. Do it! The other way is supersedure. Supersedure happens when the queen's getting old, maybe she's not laying correctly, and supersedure is done by the workers. The workers make the decision to do supersedure. So they will build a supersedure cell in the middle of a frame so that the queen doesn't know it's there. And the queen will lay an egg with fertilized cells. She'll lay down an egg and a sperm in a worker cell. And then the workers will then pick up that egg and move it over into the supersedure cell. So they're basically creating the queen that is going to be replacing her. And then when that queen is born, that queen and the old queen will fight to the death. And the new queen will kill the other one. And also in the swarm situation, once those five to seven bees hatch, they will all fight to the death. So when Jana found that bee that was outside the doorway that was twitching, that was a deep bee that had been killed by the queen that won, and the other bees had dragged her out and just threw her outside because one of the jobs in the beehive is being the undertaker and removing dead bees. Are you with me? Is this all making sense. This is a lot of information. So, moving along. My hive is a Langstroth hive, which is the hive you think of when you think of beehives. Square thing with the levels. There's also top bars and there's other different types of hives. I don't know much about them. I only know about Langstroth. But I can speak to skeps, which are those hives you think like the old tiny hives that look like coiled rope that kind of it looks like a little dome. That is an early form of beekeeping. And the way that those worked it was just like a hollow thing. They would capture a swarm inside of it. There's no frames in it and you can't inspect the bees. So basically, they would just like put the bees in. They would have them hang out in there for a while. And there was a door. The bees couldn't go in and out of it, obviously. And then they would poke a stick in it to see if there's enough honey like oozing out the bottom. And if there was, to harvest it, they would either put sulfur below the scap, kill all the bees, or they would just crush the scap and then the honey would just ooze out. And now, skeps are illegal. You can't keep them because you can't check them for mites or diseases. And we're spending a lot of time as beekeepers trying to prevent infestations and diseases. So because you can't check that in a skep, they're illegal. You can't have them. At least in the U.S., you can't have them. Let's see. So honeycomb is made from beeswax, which is a substance that is created by worker bees. They secrete the wax from a gland in their stomach, and then they They chew on the wax for a bit with some honey and some pollen. They make the beeswax and then they put it in the oven. And I actually don't know how they make the hexagons. I know that's a whole thing. But then, obviously, the scout bees go out into their field bees, rather, go out and they collect pollen and nectar. And they have these baskets on their legs called pollen baskets. And so when they are out, you know, doing their thing, going from flower to flower, they put the pollen in these little baskets that are on their legs. So when the bees come back from being out in the field and they land, they have these like, their legs are just chunky with like yellow. Right now my bees have a lot of yellow and purple because there's these purple flowers that are all over my neighborhood and it's so pretty. And then we get like the bee balm era, the red pollen and it's just beautiful. And so they go to flower to flower, that's where they get their pollen. And then the nectar, they suck the nectar up through a proboscis, like a tube that comes out of their face. And then they have a second stomach called a honey stomach. And the nectar gets sucked into the honeybee, it passes into this expandable pouch, it's called the honey stomach. And then they return to the hive and they pump out the nectar into what's called a receiving bee. So a lot of people will be like, oh, it's bee puke. That's what honey is. No, it's just there's an enzyme in the receiving bee. And then they spit it into a cell. And then there's fanning bees. And the fanning bees have two roles. One is just fanning it just to create air conditioning. Like to create air. But they also fan the nectar until it hits a humidity rate between 15% and 18%. So they're basically thickening the honey by fanning it and getting some of the water out of it. And then once it hits that humidity rate between 15 and 18%, then it gets capped by wax by a capping bee. And so that's sort of the basics there. All right. This is a lot. I'm 35 minutes in and I haven't even gotten like halfway through this. Okay, so the queen's only job is to lay eggs. The drone's job is to mate with the queen and worker bees are responsible for everything else. And so the workers, they gather nectar, they guard the hive, the honey, they care for the queen and the larva. They keep the hives clean and they produce the honey. So the queen, her gestation phase is 16 days and she then becomes fertile at 23. The workers, their gestation rate is 21 to 22 days. And then the drones, they gestate for 24 days and then they hit their fertility at 38. And so, the queen can live up to four years, four or five years, she lays 2,000. Bags a day. So drones live for like eight weeks. That's their total lifespan. And the male bees, their sole purpose is to mate with the queen. They don't work. They don't make honey. They can't sting. And since a queen only needs to mate once, most of the drones in existence won't even get the chance to fulfill their role. But worker bees keep them around just in case a new queen needs mating. And drones make up 10% of the hive. So one of the things you're also looking for when you're in the hive is to make sure that the hive is only 10% male. And then you can determine that by how much drone comb is on the frame. So if there's too much drone brood, that's a sign of bad things. You have to take measures to like, that means you probably have either a laying worker, which means a working bee that somehow managed to, who just started laying their own eggs, which is rare. And I don't remember the other reason why drones happen. But anyway, you're also, you're just trying to keep it so that you've got a regulated, you know, percentage of female versus male bees. So they, yeah, drones live for about eight weeks. And in that time, they have all their needs met by the workers. They feed them and they, you know, help them with their lives. And then in the fall, the worker bees kick all the drones out of the hive because keeping them through the winter would be, you know, it requires too much food and work. So, they get kicked out and there's just no men in the hive from September until about, February or March. Actually, probably later than that, probably more like April. So, question I'm sure you're having is how does the queen get all of that bee semen inside of her? So this is amazing. So there is an area that's located about 120 feet up in the air. That's about 100 to 700 feet in diameter. And it is called a drone congregation area or a DCA. And this area, it's the same place year after year. And it's basically just a place where drones go and hang out to wait for a queen to be born. And they drones, they fly back and forth in this area, and they're producing this like audible sound. And there's a bunch of DCAs to choose from. And during the life of a drone, they can visit a few DCAs. And sometimes more than one DCA is visited by the same drone in one day, like going from bar to bar trying to score. The number of drones present, it can range from a few hundred to a few thousand. There's just hundreds to thousands of dude bees just buzzing around in this area about 100 feet up in the air, waiting for a queen to be born. And none of those drones are related. Like all those drones are from different hives. So you don't have the same queen DNA, whatever. Does that make sense? So when a queen is born, she comes out of her queen cell, the nurse bees clean her off and they start feeding her so that she's got the strength to fly. And then she flies out of the hive and it's called her maiden or matrimonial voyage. And she flies up into the DCA, the drone congregation site. And a swarm of pursuing drones rapidly forms a line behind the queen that's kind of shaped like a comet. And then I don't know how else to put this, but they gang bang her. And she gets gang banged by like 15 to 20 bees. And then she's got the semen of those 15 to 20 bees inside of her. So when she is laying the egg and then she puts the sperm down, it could be a potentially different bee's sperm. So when you're looking at all the bees within a hive, all those bees have the same mom. But like there could be 15 to 20 different dads that gave her the semen that's inside of that. And as I said before, the drones come at 80 miles per hour and their penises fall off and sometimes get stuck inside the queen. But so she comes back full of semen and then she goes back into the hive and then she never leaves it again unless there's a swarm or she is killed or, you know, I've had to commit light regicide. I've had to kill a couple of queens to replace them over the years. So but generally speaking, she goes back into the hive and never leaves. And speaking of like violent reproduction, Sebastian walked into my room the other day and he was like, bedbugs reproduce in a very violent way. And I'm like, what are you talking about? Why are you talking about bedbugs? He watches a lot of YouTube videos. I know I'm a bad parent. Anyway, he goes, they reproduce by traumatic insemination, which were two words I didn't know he knew. And it's like, you know, that autistic urge to just info dump whatever's on their mind. So he just goes into it and he starts, I'm like, Sebastian, that's not, basically he said, he's like, bedbugs reproduced by the male bee putting his, he didn't use the word penis, but he like, we haven't had that talk yet, but he was like, he puts his, I don't remember how he put it. Let's just say he used the word penis. I don't think he did. But he's like, the bedbug stabs the lady bedbug in her stomach and he releases the sperm. I'm like, Sebastian, that's not true. That is insane. That's rape. I don't know how to put, I don't think that's how they possibly reproduce. But then I fucking Google it. And that is exactly how bedbugs reproduce. Just when you thought bedbugs couldn't get worse? So, they have no courtship ritual. What they have, it is called traumatic insemination, and the male bed bug climbs on top of a female, stabs her in the side of her body with this like hypodermic penis, and releases his sperm into her body cavity. And they've determined, I did kind of a deep dive on this, but the female only has to mate once, and in order to like have enough semen inside of them to keep reproducing. But what they've determined, when it does stab him, it is a coercive male. I looked it up. It's a coercive male copulatory strategy that results in a sexual conflict of interest, was how it was phrased in this scientific article I found. And it's like, oh, you mean rape? So basically, the male comes in and pokes her inner side, releases the semen. And then that semen has an enzyme inside of it that will kill all previous semen. And so there was actually some study that showed that when a queen gets repeatedly stabbed, it actually makes her less productive, which is, I mean, I guess in theory, we want that. We don't want queens to be productive because who wants bedbugs? But I also don't like the idea of them being raped into like, I don't know. Anyway, so basically, it's like the females are busted into and then produce bedbugs and it's rape. And even female bedbugs don't want to reproduce. The proteins that's in semen is like toxic to the females and it fucks up their longevity and their fitness. I don't know why I told you that just because it's a fucking crazy story, but it's about violent reproduction. And, you know, nature is metal, guys. Okay, so anyway, getting back on topic with the beehive. So basically, a lot of people also asked me how the bees got from my house in Chicago up to Evanston. So yeah, I did do a whole thing with Jana. It was a really crazy process. We had to like, I'm not remembering. I'm sorry, Jana, if you listen to this, and I'm not remembering this 100% correctly. But basically, Jana came by. And we put ratchet straps around the hive. And then we had to wait until... Yeah, that's right. We ratcheted the hives to get them all together. So they were already, they were in their own little individual units. And then we had to wait until after sundown because bees can't see in the dark. So the sun goes down at like 6 27 p.m. All the bees are back in the hive by that point. So once we did that we taped the hive up and we left like one little section open for air to be able to get in. And then we borrowed my neighbor's truck, my neighbor Bob, and the hives that there were a million pounds. We got them up into the truck and then we drove them up here and then we got them them out of the truck and we put them in where their final place was in my backyard. And then in the morning, I came out and I took off the tape and let them just start flying in it. And it was like they just picked up like nothing had happened. But they were total assholes. Those bees, I thought they were just mad because they'd been moved. And in Chicago, my hives were on the side of my garage and was hidden by a bunch of trees. So if didn't know I kept bees, you wouldn't know there were bees back there because they were all kind of hidden off to the side of my garage. In my backyard now, they're like in my yard and so everybody can see them and you can see them doing thing. So. When we first moved in, like, everyone was getting stung. Like, I didn't get stung, but like, John got stung, John's parents got stung, Sebastian got stung a couple times, like, everyone was getting stung. And Jana even said when we were moving them, she's like, these, these are assholes, like, there's something wrong with them genetically. And I'm like, really? Because I don't know, you know, and she's like, you probably need to requeen this hive. And then my other hive was really weak. I had fucked up when I put the queen in, I put the cajun upside down, and she didn't get released properly. And it took forever for that hive to kind of kick on. So like, that hive was really weak. And the other one was filled with assholes. And Jana's like, we need to requeen both of these hives. So a couple weeks later, she comes over and we did with the weak hive, we put a nuke in that one, which I had said earlier on is five frames of that queen and her brood. So we put that nuke into that hive. And then, and so we had to find the queens in both of those hives and kill them. So I had to like, basically I found the queen and I just pinched her between my fingers and killed her. I know that sounds terrible, doesn't it? But it's like, you have to kind of get used to the animal husbandry of the whole thing and do what's for the best of the hive. So we put a nuke in the weak hive, and then in the asshole hive, I killed that queen and we just put a queen in that hive. And ever since we did that, those hives were great and no one got stung anymore. So what's interesting is that workers have a 38-day life cycle, or 50-day life cycle. And Janna said that in three weeks all those asshole bees would be gone. And she was right. Three weeks later, all the assholes were gone. Everything was great. And so I also have never gotten my hives to overwinter, which is not rare. In Chicago, only like 10% of the hives overwinter because of just the weather being so aggressive here. And it's not the cold so much that kills bees. It's wetness. And if you don't manage that correctly, it's not good for the bees. But I was able to get both of my hives to overwinter, which is great. And I think part of it is I just did a better job of managing them at the end of the season. I think because I spent all this money on a nuc. And to give you an idea of pricing, a three-pound box of bees is like $175. A queen is like $125. And a nuc is like $300. So it's a bit of an expense to get all of this purchased in... Beekeeping is an expensive, hard hobby. I don't recommend it for anybody who doesn't have, you know, it's heavy, it's hot, it's hard. Oh, I didn't mention, a lot of people ask me what the bee smoker does. The bee smoker that you always see with beehives, they think it simulates a wildfire. And when bees smell smoke, they're like, shit, our home is about to get ruined. We have to go eat. And so it makes them go into the hive and just start eating honey. And then they're too distracted by the eating to notice what we're doing to the hive. Okay, so I did a really good job of treating my bees for Varroa, which is a mite that maybe you've heard of that is it gets on to the drones and sucks them dry and twice a year you have to do a Varroa check. So you're looking for Varroa, you're looking for other signs of disease, Stima and Hive beetle, that's an infestation. And then there's colony collapse disorder, which one year I actually had a hive that I lost a colony collapse. Way we knew. This was so sad. When I opened up the hive, on top of one of the frames was the queen. The queen was dead on top of it. And then there were two attendant bees that were like holding her arms and all three of them were dead on top of the frame of the... It was sad. But colony collapse just happens and they don't really know why. And so, yeah, and that's what a lot of what you're trying to do as a beekeeper is trying to prevent those things from happening. So what this journey has enforced for me is that age-old statement that a woman's work is never done. And nowhere in this statement is it truer than in a beehive, where all the work is done by female bees, which outnumber the male bees by a ratio of 100 to 1. And worker bees are responsible for every job in the hive except reproduction. There's all the different positions of work within the hive. And a bee will do all of those roles in the cycle of their life. And And so, like when they come out, once they get out, they eat their little way out of the cell and they clean themselves off, they immediately become nurse bees. They start feeding pollen and nectar to the baby bees. So then after they're nurse bees, then they're mortuary bees. There's bees that just take up the dead bees. There's ones that are queen attendants. There's pollen packing when they just take the pollen from the bees. They seal the honey. They build honeycomb. They fan the eggs or they fan it, they go get water and they carry water around all the bees to get them hydrated. And they become guard bees, so they're standing at the edge, making sure that there's nobody coming in to get them. And then they become foraging bees. And the foraging is the ones who go out and gather the pollen and nectar in the field. And that's a really hard job. And at the end of their lives, their little wings are all fucked up and torn up, and they're just tired. And then they die. It's really hard work. And then they die. And so, as I've said in previous podcasts, women, even in nature, have to work 20 times harder than men and do all the jobs. And men literally are here to fuck, eat, and die, which means that you have to do what you have to do. Take care of yourself and do what you have to do for yourself. Peace. You know, it's whatever. So now that you may be asking yourself, what does beekeeping have to do with being a female business owner? And as you saw, the hive is basically run by female workers, they're the ones doing all the jobs. And in business, we women are no strangers to taking on multiple roles and working our asses off. We're like both the queen bees, we're running shit, and the worker bees always hustling and getting shit done. We know what it takes to run the hive, or I mean, our companies. So let's take a cue from those badass bees and keep grinding towards our goals and maybe, just maybe, we'll get to enjoy some sweet, sweet honey along the way. Cheers to that, my fellow queen bees. Drop me a voicemail. There is a link to the voicemail page in the show notes. Just go to All Up In My Lady Business and click on the green tab on the right side that says, Leave Me A Voicemail. Thanks, guys. Buzz off. Thanks for listening to All Up In My Lady Business, a podcast from a Mary Nisi production. It is written by me, Mary Nisi. It is edited by Amelia Ruby with Softer Sounds. It is recorded at the Toast & Jam offices in Logan Square in Chicago, Illinois. And it is also sometimes, recorded in the attic of my house in Evanston. You can find resources and links from this episode in the show notes at all up in myladybusiness.com. And if you enjoyed this episode and you did smash that subscribe button and send it to somebody who's ass could be a whole lot wholer. Oh, and also if you're the kind of person that reviews things on the internet, please rate and review us on Apple podcasts and Spotify. It really does help people find the show and, Don't forget, whatever you do this week, do it with your whole ass. Thanks for listening. Music.