"The Queen's not laying at all anymore, and she's hardly eating a thing." Betty was getting quite worked up over the latest rumors from the Queen's Court. "I hear that the elders are already looking for an heir to replace her."
This was indeed startling information. Things in the house had been going so well for the past few weeks. Food was plentiful, lots of new, young bees were emerging, and the place was literally packed bee-tight. Plus, Her Majesty wasn't all that old and seemed to be in good shape. This wasn't right at all.
"Three possible heirs have already been chosen," Betty continued, "and they want you to oversee the feeding of one of them. She's on the second floor, apartment five. You need to be there ASAP."
"Thanks, Betty!" I exclaimed as I headed up to the second story. This was quite an honor to oversee the care of a potential queen. An honor and a tremendous responsibility. If anything bad were to happen to the young princess, the future of the colony would be jeopardized.
I arrived to apartment five and the nurse bees there immediately showed me to the princesses room. It was bigger and longer than an ordinary cell, but such are the perks of royalty. After a brief introduction, during which I found that the young queen's name was to be Brandi, I was put to work feeding her.
Feeding the young princess was essentially the same job as what I'd had, with a few minor differences. The foragers would bring nectar (wine) and pollen (bread) back to the house, then the delivery bees would collect the bread and wine from the foragers and either store it or deliver it to us nurse bees as was needed. I would then take the nectar and pollen, mix it together, and feed it to the young bees. In the case of a princess, we add some of our own secret ingredients to the nectar/pollen mix, as we were taught in Nurse School, and feed that to the Queen Candidates. We call the special food "Royal Jelly."
So I fed the young princess copious amounts of Royal Jelly, hoping that when she eventually emerged she would be happy and healthy.
Meanwhile, in the house, our normally harmonious family atmosphere was becoming turbulent. The Queen and Her Court, along with many of the older retinue were becoming restless, making us younger bees, in turn, a little restless. A division seemed to be occurring, a split between the younger bees and the older bees. I met Betty for lunch on the front patio.
"Have you heard about Beth?" she asked. Beth was the nurse bee who had raised both Betty and myself. She fed us as young babes and then took us under her wing shortly after we emerged, training us in the ways of the nurse bees. Shortly thereafter, she was promoted to house care and construction. We were both quite fond of her.
"No. What about Beth?" I questioned.
"She's joining the Queen's retinue. They're talking about moving out, finding a new place to stay. The Queen's already got scouts going out and looking for a new home. Beth says that if they leave, she's going with them."
This was hard to take. We both loved Beth very much. I asked Betty what would she do if the Queen left.
"I don't think I could go. I'm too attached to this place. I don't want to leave. How about you, Billie?"
"Me too. I'd stay."
And why not stay? Things were going well. The house was in good shape, and there was plenty of food coming in. Weather reports had been very good for the past few days and the family was strong and healthy. Why leave now?
Besides, even if the Queen and all the older bees did leave, there were still plenty of young bees like Betty and myself who didn't want to go. And there was a whole multitude who hadn't emerged yet who couldn't leave. If we all left, they'd all die. As a nurse bee, it would be morally wrong for me to let that happen. It is my duty to care for and protect those young bees at all costs.
In fact, with all the young bees that want to stay here, plus the pre-emerged babies, we practically outnumber the old bees that are talking about leaving. Some bees have even been saying that the reason the old bees and the Queen are looking to leave is because there are too many young bees in the house. It doesn't make sense to me; I don't know if anyone knows the real reason behind what's going on now.
I've got an ace in the hole, anyway. That young princess I was feeding, Brandi, is doing very well. She'll be ready to emerge in a couple of days, and I just know that she could make a good queen. If she can find herself a good drone, that is.