On June 11 and 12, the Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity hosted our Bee Appreciation Day. Visitors from far and wide swarmed to the gallery’s beehive to get the buzz on the new bee colony from our very own Queen Bee, Janine, the gallery’s beekeeper (and I promise I will stop making bee puns now).
But perhaps the most exciting event of the week was welcoming our new queen to the hive. Like many great rulers throughout history, the ROM’s queen bee has a regnal name or throne name: a fancy title that tells everyone how many rulers of that name have come before. Our current queen bee’s regnal name is Beatrix XXIV (long may she reign). But many rulers have another name: a personal name used by their friends and family. For example, did you know that Queen Elizabeth II‘s father, George VI, was actually called Albert or Bertie by those close to him? George was one of his middle names. So we decided that the ROM’s queen bee was no different; she needed a proper personal name, and we asked our visitors to help us pick one for her.
The entries were voted on by the staff of the Hands-on Biodiversity gallery, and I’m please to announce that we have a winner! May I introduce her Royal Majesty Queen Lily Bee!
Because two entrants submitted the name we liked best, we had a draw, and the lucky winner is Kaitlyn from Toronto, who chose the name because she likes lilies.
It was a close contest, with some fantastic runners-up. Their names may be used for future queens, because they’re just too good to pass up:
Bee-scuit, submitted by Beatriz, because “it joins bee to something sweet, like is the honey made by bees.”
A three-way tie!
Romona, submitted by Chavi “for the ROM – and in honor of Ramona by Beverly Cleary.”
Bee-lizabeth, submitted by Logan “because it’s catchy, and she’s a queen like Queen Elizabeth.”
Beezie, submitted by Kaitlyn’s brother Kynan because “a queen bee is very busy, so it fits.”
And a special Honourable Mention goes to Abbey, who also suggested Lily because it’s a “pretty name for a queen.”
Both staff and visitors were thrilled to learn many new and interesting things about the ROM’s bees from Janine. For instance, did you know that there are drones (the male bees) with white eyes in the hive? It’s a recessive mutation, so only a few of the drones have it! We also learned why the wax the bees put over pupating babies, or brood, is a different colour than the wax they put over honey. It’s because the bees mix the brood wax with propolis, a kind of “bee glue” they make out of tree resin, which has antiviral properties that keep the baby bees healthier.
While Janine kept visitors fascinated by her knowledge of the hive, the rest of the gallery staff and volunteers were busy helping visitors with a variety of activities. Visitors could strut their stuff by collecting pollen from a giant flower, doing a bee dance to show their friends where the food can be found, and then heading over to our bee table to make a bee of their very own to take home.
Congratulations to all our finalists, and be sure to come up to the gallery to pay your respects to Queen Lily next time you’re at the ROM!