Bees are colony organisms, meaning that the living being is really the sum total of the hive occupants, much like a living city. New colonies can be formed by taking pieces from existing ones, but the process is not gentle. In this case, it's like picking up a bus load of people, shaking them until their organs fall out, and then bundling the resultant mess in with a nice fresh heart and waiting for a person to emerge. Packages (the term for the aforementioned buzzing box o' bees) are literally shaken together, by putting a metal funnel above a package box, grabbing a frame from a hive, and shaking the bees off of it, and down the funnel. They sound like M&M's as they go down. The secret to making this work is that before the bees were shaken in, a queen was placed carefully in a queen cage, hanging inside the package box. Once the box weighs the right amount (usually 3 pounds), the funnel is removed, a feeder can is put in, and the package is carried off to stack somewhere in a back room or dock.
And the bees? Bees do not speak, per se, though the sound of the hive is akin to a voice, and one any beekeeper would be wise to listen to. They communicate by chemical scent, and operate on consensus, but if you could listen in, they would smell you what was going on.
During the shaking, alarm pheromones flood the air, a scent like rotten bananas which incites bees to sting and whips them into a frenzy, but for little good. Alarm! Alarm, screams the voice of the hives, amid the confusion of the shake. In the tiny box instinctual terror reigns as they are bounced about, the alarm scent mixing with the scent of crushed bees.
Bees are driven to defend their home, and return to their queen. Each and every queen smells different, and the bees of a hive know their queen, because it is like knowing themselves. She may be their mother, or not, but the reigning queen is imprinted upon their chemical memory like the North Star.
The Queen, The Hive, demands instinct, and they shuffle from edge to edge on the screen, pressed in among thousands of others, but they cannot reach their hive, and in this quiet dock where the packages are stocked, the scent of home is far away.
The field bees that were caught in the shake are older, more stubborn, their "memories" go back further, and they continue to press against the screen of the package, but in the center, something is changing. The younger bees, nurse bees and house bees are more impressionable. Their short lives have been spent in the heart of the broodnest, where the scent, the voice of the queen is everywhere, so strong that it is like she is thundering, I am the Queen. The Queen is here. All is well.
In this package, that familiar chemical voice has fallen silent. In its absence, they are lost. Then, the bees nearest the queen, the youngest bees, catch a new scent, mixed with the terror and alarm. It is the pheromone of the new queen in the package, and while it stands out as not quite right, they are calmed. A single bee lifts its abdomen and begins to beat its wings, releasing a new scent, that smells of lemon grass. This is the gathering scent, a whisper at first that says We are here. Gather. Other bees catch the scent, and pass it on, and now the whisper is spoken aloud, Gather, and louder yet, GATHER as the cluster forms about the new queen. In this area where the packages are stocked, the scent is everywhere, and the bees, each in their own private disaster, gather together. The mind of the colony, formed by consensus and communicated by chemicals coalesces. It is not yet unified, but it is present.
The colony is estranged from itself, split from those who remember the "voice" of the old queen, and those too young to know differently. Even among the nurse bees, they are divided, at times driven to tend to this queen among them, at times driven to tear her apart, but as the hours go by, another shift occures. Their chemical memories are not forever, and in the confines of the package, as instinct demands Find your Queen, the only answer is the ever present repletion by existence of the new queen: I am the queen. All will be well. If there are no other voices to challenge hers, it will be. Their North Star has been eclipsed for so long they can no longer remember what it looked like, but in their communal darkness, they see a new light. The oldest of the field bees, the foragers, may never agree. They may never fully join the new colony, drifting to some other hive, or dieing in the cold, but when the colony speaks now, the voice is clear, and united.
United though they are, tough times await this new package. When they arrive at their new home, they will be sprayed with sugar water (sometimes submerged!), and then unceremoniously dumped into their new home. In the darkness of the new hive, this saga will play out again, but at a lighting pace, the colony quickly sorting itself, verifying that the queen is present, and then gathering. For a day they hang, organizing. And then the colony begins its life. Foragers forage. House bees clean. Nurse bees draw comb. And the queen? She is present, walking among her workforce. As she passes, the bees that attend her pass her scent, one to another, until it fills the colony, giving purpose to them, driving the colony to exist, the hive mind to decide. The Queen is here. All is well, says the scent. In time, that is true.