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When will a newly-emerged queen begin to lay?

A first-year beekeeper e-mailed to say he was excited to see a new virgin queen in the act of emerging from her cell. But that was three whole days ago and still no eggs! He wanted to know if he should should replace her.

My answer? Holy guacamole, give the woman a chance! These things take time. Newborn babes do not start mating and carrying on for at least a few days.

As a matter of fact, according to M.E.A. McNeil in The Hive and the Honey Bee (2015), a new virgin queen does not become sexually mature for five to six days after emergence. A number of things need to happen before she is ready to fly. Like all insects, the outer layer of chitin covering her body must become hardened and thickened, a process that may take several days. In addition, her pheromones must develop so she will become attractive to flying drones.

Multiple mating flights are common

Once she is sexually mature, the workers escort her out the door on the first sunny afternoon in the 60s or above. She flies to one or more drone congregation areas where she will be pursued by hoards of drones. If all goes well, she will mate with a dozen or more, and then return to the hive, guided by workers waiting for her return.

Sometimes, however, the number of matings from one flight is not sufficient and she must repeat the mating flight once, or even several times, until she has collected enough sperm to fill her oviducts.

Once the oviducts are full, the sperm migrates from the oviducts into the spermatheca, the long-term storage place for sperm. This is accomplished by a series of abdominal contractions and may take up to 40 hours. Any extra sperm is expelled from her body through the sting chamber and now the queen is ready to begin laying.

Count the days before she lays

Looking at the math, we can see that if everything went as fast as possible, the queen could begin to lay as early as 8 days after emergence:

5 days maturing + 1 day mating + 2 days sperm storage = 8 days

But that almost never happens. More typical would be:

6 days maturing + 4 days mating + 2 days sperm storage = 12 days

But toss in a week of rain and it might look like this:

6 days maturing + 4 days mating + 7 days rain + 2 days sperm storage = 19 days

In fact, many people believe 2 to 3 weeks (14 to 21 days) is a good rough estimate of the hatch-to-lay timetable.

Many risks and lots of days

All of these numbers assume that everything turns out right in the end: the queen didn’t get eaten by a bird, get caught in a rain storm, or remain hive-bound so long that she became a drone layer. Any number of  things can easily go wrong.

And that’s only part of the waiting game; once the first egg is laid, it will take three weeks for it to hatch. So be patient with your bees and think before you replace that new brand new queen.

Rusty
Honey Bee Suite

When will my queen begin to lay? It takes a while.
Queen honey bee. Pixabay photo.

Comments

AramF
Reply

Ideal conditions happen quite often. If I don’t see eggs in 10 days, I get very nervous. If the queen starts laying at 14 days, she never turns out good for me and workers usually replace her on their own soon after.

Jerry Holman
Reply

I have two questions. 1. Does anyone sell a frame open brood? I know why would you do that? Tthe reason for the silly question is I want to do a trap-out but being a first time beekeeper I have no open brood. I did a trap-out last year and did very well till fall and lost the hive to yellowjackets. So question two is related to question one. I have a nuc coming May 1 about how long will I have to wait to get a frame of brood from that? Or should I do that at all with a new starting hive? I have two feral hives to trap, one I need to get the bees out and seal up the tree for the person. But the second one I would like retain some bees in it to allow it to grow stronger and not lose the whole hive. If that makes any sense? Just like to hear what your thoughts on this would be.

Byoung
Reply

Very nicely put. I’ve always said 15 days for a good average. One more thing maybe should be added, some new queens don’t like being disturbed in the first few days after mating. When disturbed to soon, the risk of absconding is high.

Boyd

Rusty
Reply

Good advice!

Anthony Planakis
Reply

Hey Rusty,

Unbelievable, am prancing back and forth in the maternity ward as we speak. Did a five frame nuc split and on the 10th of April she was born. It’s now 9 days later and will be checking this Saturday which would bring me to 13 days.

I’ve been watching the entrance and observed minimal pollen stores coming in which tells me she hasn’t started laying as of yet. I use the hive entrance observation method to determine the overall health of the hive with minimal disturbance. Anyhow, those numbers are right on the money. Fingers crossed 🙂

Tonybees..

Rusty
Reply

Tonybees,

When I first read this and saw “maternity ward” I was really worried about you! Then I got it. lol

Nancy
Reply

Rusty,
Terminology? Isn’t it preferred to say that eggs hatch, adult bees emerge? Sorry to be nitpicky, but it must make a difference or there wouldn’t be both terms.
Old teaching habits die hard…
Nan

Rusty
Reply

Nancy,

Yes, you are absolutely right. The problem I have found with new beekeepers is they often think emerge means “walk out of the queen cage.” Newly-hatched seems somewhat more obvious than newly-emerged even if it is not technically correct.

Pedro
Reply

What a great photo of a beautiful queen.

Barney
Reply

Hi Rusty,

I am a swarm catcher. I remove unwanted swarms and relocate them to bee farmers. I am staying in the city and have 2 hives in my backyard. I envy you people that can inspect your hives so often. Once my neighbour at the back got stung by my bees and threatened to report me. I had to sell the aggressive hive. A long story short, I got now 2 hives again. I can only do my hive inspections when my neighbour is not at home. He visits his grandchildren 3 days per week and that gives me some time to inspect my bees. I made myself a one-way drawer which I hope to install tomorrow between my honey super and the brood box. Once the honey is harvested I slide out the one-way board and slide in a board with a 40mm hole in the centre so that the bees can move freely between the honey super and the brood box.

I enjoy reading your blog. Regards Barny.

Rusty
Reply

Barney,

Sounds like an interesting set up. I love the ideas people come up with.

Anna
Reply

I find that, in general, people think they need to replace a queen at the drop of a hat. I try to teach my mentees that an excellent queen can still be a poor queen when placed into a poor hive. Queens need a lot of support to do the job well. If you have a queen that does not appear to be “pulling her weight” while having many resources at her disposal, then it would be appropriate to replace her.

For example, you have a struggling hive with few frames of bees, minimal brood, food, etc. You decide to replace the queen because it must be a queen issue. You buy a $35 queen with high hopes, put her into this hive with few bees and little food. A few weeks later, the situation appears the same. Did you buy a dud queen? Unlikely. New beekeepers (and even experienced ones) seem to forget there needs to be a critical mass of nurse bees to care for brood. The queen can only lay as much as the existing bees can care for–if there are few nurse bees, then there will be little brood.

Beekeeping is ongoing education not only of the public, but other beekeepers. Always appreciate your efforts Rusty.

Rusty
Reply

Anna,

This is an excellent and often overlooked point. The best bricklayer in the world cannot a build a thing without a supply of bricks and mortar, yet we expect honey bee queens to be magicians. I have pulled what seemed to be underachievers from poor hives and dropped them in stronger hives where they shined. Thanks for the reminder.

Tim
Reply

Somewhat related, and the other place I find myself over-anxious on occasion, how long after a swarm is captured and re-homed does everyone wait before they expect to start seeing eggs?

Tim

Rusty
Reply

Tim,

In a normal swarm that contained the queen from their previous hive, I would expect to see eggs within two or three days.

Tom Newbee Beek
Reply

I just installed my bees 2 days ago so I’m just about to check the hive to see if she’s out of her cage. This is my first time so I’m like a new dad showing people photos of me releasing the bees, the hive and so on. Now I’ll be pacing for another 2 weeks or so to see if she is laying eggs. So the release is like false labor with a 2 week wait until the birth lol Thank you for the info!

Rusty
Reply

Tom,

No, no! You misunderstand. A virgin queen fresh out of her cell takes that long to start laying. Your queen that came with your bees is already mated. She can start laying as soon as there is some comb to lay in.

Ken James
Reply

Hello, I’m on my 2 year of beekeeping, this is my first time commenting, but this is always my first source of info when needing to do some research. My question is, I just split the seasons first hive a little over a week and a half ago. The hive was fairly docile at the time of the split. Now, the bees are extremely aggressive. Aggressive to the point where just about 10 minutes ago, I walked out into the garden and was stung 4 times at a good distance of 20-25 feet from the hives. I know bees can be feisty when queen less, but this is beyond feisty. I’ve never seen bees act like this. It could be that we’ve had a few days of heavy rain, but today is warm and sunny out. It’s highly frustrating. Any suggestions?

Vince
Reply

Just placed a swarm from my bait hive into a 10 frame hive. My first try at a catch using Swarm Commander. Only took 3 days and thousands of bees. It was in a tree about 10 feet high. I left the hive at the bottom of the tree. The question is I want to move it to a sunny spot on the same property about 50 to 75 yards. My wife said that this move will confuse the bees but I think that the bees are smart and will be ok. I plan to move when it is still dark and put some grass/weeds on landing board after the move.

Rusty
Reply

Vince,

You will definitely get foragers going back to the original location. I would lock them up for a few days after the move and obstruct their entrance to force them to re-orient. Even then you will probably lose some. You should always move captured swarms as soon as possible.

Robbin
Reply

Rusty,

I just want to tell you how useful your site is. You explain things well and your articles have helped me make a decision concerning my hives.

I’ve learned more from your site than any book or bee mentor. Your articles are so full of info.

Thanks again,
Robbin- north eastern maryland

Rusty
Reply

Robbin,

Thank you so much!

Matt Crum
Reply

In two weeks will all the nurse bees become foragers? Who will be looking out for the larva when the queen actually does start laying? I think I’m on about day 9 right now.

About two weeks ago I did a hive check and found way more bees then I was expecting and a number of swarm cells. I did a split and put a number of the frames in the nuc with swarm cells but left one frame in the main hive with swarm cells. I read through your blog and saw about taking out the queen and putting her in the split in order to really satisfy the swarm urge and tried to find the queen but couldn’t. Two days later she left with a big workforce, about a week ago. Now I’m waiting for both hives queens to start laying. Next time I’ll definitely make a swarm split by removing the established queen and putting her in a nuc or setting up another hive.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

Rusty
Reply

Matt,

The bees that are now nurses will become foragers. In the meantime, new bees will emerge and will become the new house bees and nurse bees.

Griffin
Reply

I’m starting my 2nd year and have been reading your site for a while – it’s been quite a help. Thanks!

My question is pretty simple — While the hive is making a queen, is there a concern of lack of open brood triggering laying workers? Do I need to routinely add more brood to prevent that?

I had the opportunity to actually see a swarm fly overhead to take up residence in a tree. I began trapping them out 5 days later. I gave them a frame of brood/eggs to get them started. They took to the new hive and have 2 queen cells going. Given the time needed for queen cell cycle, maturing, mating, etc before there are eggs (2-3wks + cell time), I’m wondering if I need to provide additional brood/eggs during this time to prevent laying workers. (I lost my first hive to laying workers after a failed supercedure following a swarm – chalk it up to inexperience.)

Sorry, this was way longer than expected. Would appreciate any help. Thanks!!!

Rusty
Reply

Griffin,

Swarms usually have a queen. Most times it is the old queen from the original hive. Sometimes it is a virgin. Usually, there is plenty of time to get the new colony going without the addition of brood. This is because the queen’s pheromones also play a part in suppressing worker ovaries. From what I’ve read, it is not as powerful as open-brood pheromone, but it can do the job for a while. But the addition of open brood certainly doesn’t hurt if you have it available. It helps the new colony grow faster if nothing else.

Griffin
Reply

Thanks Rusty.

Since I’m trapping them out of the tree, they don’t have their queen in the new hive (she’s still in the tree). But if I understand your response correctly, I should be good without adding additional brood for the time it take them to raise a new one. Just to be safe, I’ll be sure to check for eggs and will add brood if it appears neither of the cells returned a mated queen.

Tyrel
Reply

Hi there. I recently did a split, and at last check the new queen was laying. Very recent, because there were only eggs, no older brood. From what I could tell the pattern didn’t look that great, and i was wondering, is there a time period for the queen to start laying well? Or if she isnt great early like that, is she likely to be poor? I’ll wait it out, and see what happens, but i thought maybe there was some rule of thumb to go by.

Thanks, keep up the great info!

Rusty
Reply

Tyrel,

Like I always say, give the lady a chance. Yes, it takes a while for her to get into her groove. In the beginning, she may lay multiple eggs in one cell or she may skip cells entirely. Patience is a virtue.

debbie
Reply

My hive swarmed 35 days ago. (May 7/8th) There are no eggs or brood present in the hive yet. Would one wait longer or requeen? I am not sure if they still have time to produce a queen if I put in a frame of brood. The frames are nice and shiny, cleaned out, but nothing in the brood box. They did leave some honey areas here and there. Suggestion? The bees are calm when I open them up to check, they are not feisty, so I am assuming there may be a queen in there, but I am not sure how long to wait it out until it’s too late to do anything. Thanks !

Rusty
Reply

Debbie,

Five weeks is getting up there. It is possible it could take that long, especially if you had long stretches of bad weather, but the possibility of things working out is getting slim. Laying workers are going to take over unless they get a queen or open brood very soon. If it were me I would re-queen as soon as possible.

debbie
Reply

Thank you. I will go and purchase a queen and get her in there before it’s too late. I appreciate your quick response. This is one of the websites I visit daily ! Thanks for being here for all of us.

debbie
Reply

Rusty,

My math and question ….
5/7 or 8 swarmed; 6/18 is 41 days from swarm date; 5/29 w/mean ‘last worker emerged’; 6/01 w/mean ‘last drone emerged’; 6/17 new queen;
(6×7=42 days the bees live in summer (6 wks estimate); minus 18 days since last emerged brood; leaves 24 days left to brood out before old bees die; so that w/mean that all bees w/be gone (dead) by the time the new brood w/hatch out; (need 3 days for bees to release Queen, then 21 days till brood (or 24 drones) (if all goes purrfectly) that means we have approx. 24 days …. which is pushing way too close.

Would it be advisable to take a few frames of brood from another hive and add weekly until we get some good house bee numbers? or would you take a few frames immediately and put them in there. I will be opening hive again in seven days to see about new Queen.

are my figures correct? advice? Thank you.

Rusty
Reply

Debbie,

I think your numbers are fine. I wrote a long post on this exact subject about three years ago, but I took it down because there was so much disagreement that I thought I must have made an error somewhere along the line. It turns out that a colony in a stress situation like this has ways of coping. For one thing, bees revert from forager to house bees in order to keep things going, and these bees tend to live longer because they are protected within the hive. I should work on the post again as it is an interesting subject.

That said, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add some brood to boost the population and protect the colony from laying workers. I would probably do it sooner rather than later, but that’s just a personal preference.

debbie
Reply

Rusty,
Thank you for the information. I will peruse the article. I put the new queen in. The bee inspector is coming on Friday to help me add some brood. He wants to look at the hive numbers and see what we can do. I find it fascinating that they will revert to house bees. I will keep you posted.

Fritz
Reply

I caught a swarm a month ago in a new hive with old comb and lure in it. I moved it to its new location within two days, and placed branches in front to force some re-orientation. It was a small swarm, but after a month it doesn’t seem to have grown. They built one new comb next to the old one, partially, and through the view window I can see uncapped honey. Not much change in population. I wonder if they are queenless? Could I have moved the hive while she was out? I did it in the evening after they were all in. Thoughts?

Rusty
Reply

Fritz,

It is possible you are queenless, but maybe not. Remember that a swarm will get much smaller before it gets larger. Even if the queen starts to lay the first day, it will be at least three weeks to see new bees and, during that time, other bees will be dying. Sometimes the smaller swarms have virgin queens, and that will take much longer to get going. If it was a virgin, she could have died during a mating flight, but I doubt it was due to moving the colony, especially at night. Have you opened the hive and looked for eggs? That is what I would do.

Loralei Snider
Reply

It’s 2017, and I just landed on this post, after experiencing the same issue Debbie had. My hive swarmed May 7, and on May 19 was queen right… today, I checked in to look for eggs, and not only did I not have a queen, but I found 1 capped supercedure cell. I added a frame of ELB to the hive, and ordered a mated queen to be dropped off tomorrow.

My question is after this long being queenless, should I expect my need to accept her quickly, or wait the usual 3-5 days before checking?

Rusty
Reply

Loralei,

I would wait three days.

noreen
Reply

I have moved my nuc colony into a full sized National, 5 frames plus a dummy board. The cheap feeder had leaked when I was away and proper contact wouldn’t fit in nuc. Queen was due to emerge 3 days ago but we have had our usual wet Irish weather. Reassure me! Please will I have upset my virgin queen? P.S. great to read shared problems. Thanks Rusty lol from Ireland

Rusty
Reply

Noreen,

The wet weather won’t delay the queen’s emergence, but it may delay her mating flight. As shown above, if all is perfect, she could begin to lay in as few as 8 days, but with lots of bad weather, it could take several weeks. The leaky feeder won’t matter. They probably cleaned up what they could and let the rest run out. Honey bees in nature encounter worse things every day. The scariest part of all this is her mating flight. If she gets eaten by a bird, then you’re in trouble.

Missy
Reply

Rusty,

I am a new beekeeper. I had a hive last year, but it failed to make it through the winter, so I purchased a new nuc in the spring and I installed it 4 weeks ago. I left it for a week to establish itself, inspected it, couldn’t find the queen, or see eggs but that is nothing new for me as I take a while to see the queen and I find it hard to see eggs in the open cells. I decided it leave it alone for two weeks and was just about to come back and inspect when I got a phone call that my bees were on a nearby shed! I ran over with an empty hive box and some old frames, with the hope of catching them. I inspected my old hive which still had approximately 50% of the bees still in it. It looks like two open queen cells, a lot more drones than I had seen before, two honey-laden frames, but I still couldn’t find a queen, two frames were completely empty and they hadn’t expanded beyond the 4 original frames that they had come with. I did a bit of rearranging of frames and established a bait hive with a lemongrass/beeswax mixture, approximately a foot away from the hive [swarm?] on the shed.

Well, it seems my bait worked and after a week the hive [swarm?] moved into the new super; when I inspected my old hive, they are finally interested in the new frames, building new comb etc, but I still cannot find a queen and I get the impression, no laying is going on!! Any ideas what happened so early in the game with a new nuc and should I wait a few more weeks to see if the queen is there and laying before I consider a new queen? I’m beginning to wonder if I even got a queen 🙁

Rusty
Reply

Missy,

This is hard to understand, let alone answer. But the swarm would have left the original hive with the old queen. You said you saw queen cells, which sounds right. Once the virgin queen emerges, it will take, on average, 2 to 3 weeks for her to begin to lay.

Missy
Reply

I just checked my super, where I assumed my swarm had disappeared to, due to large flying frenzy and a lot of activity going to and from the super and it is almost empty :(, a couple hundred of bees at the most, but my old hive, seems to have grown in numbers, but still no queen and I can’t see any eggs, no capped brood, just lots of nectar and pollen, but lots of new comb building.

Rusty
Reply

Missy,

At this point, I’m not sure what is going on with the bait hive. It may have attracted scout bees for a while, or if there was honey in there, it may have been robbed. New comb in the old hive is a good sign. Use the timeline above to see when you should expect to see eggs.

Erik
Reply

Thanks for the great site and all the work that goes into it.

My hive swarmed 24 days ago. On checking it today there is no sign of eggs and the bees, which are normally pretty easy going, are very irritable. Am I getting to the point that I should be either recombining or buying a queen? Or is there still enough time to be waiting for the new queen to lay, or alternatively give them a frame of brood with eggs so they can make a new one? We’ve have had a run of bad weather lately that has just lifted.

Rusty
Reply

Erik,

You’re getting a little on the long side. If I had a frame of open brood, I’d give it to them to ward off laying workers until I could get a queen. Otherwise, recombine.

Janet Kouma
Reply

100 percent sure of queenless Italian colony. 3 queen cells capped 2 weeks ago (minimal capped brood then only). Installed open brood frame yesterday (6/25) from Carniolan hive (no capped brood on queenless colony) , How long should I wait to inspect? Also, I took a frame from a Carni harem and inserted it into Italian hive. What happens if they need to raise a Carniolan Queen? I just end up with 2 Carniolan colonies? I don’t mind, just want to know. I think I saw a virgin queen yesterday, but due to her speed, was unable to get a real good look. Went through both brood boxes and only saw a few drones. Shouldn’t there be like more than 4 in a double deep colony? I have no idea what happened to this queen, but they have been building queen cells since the install. They came with pretty bad dysentery, I really didn’t think they would live through it. My seller said it was that way with all the hives and they knew beforehand. Treated with Fumagilin B as per sellers instructions. Thanks Rusty. Seller very reputable, bees from CA.

Rusty
Reply

Janet,

At the end you say, “My seller said it was that way with all the hives.” Define what you mean by “hives.” Are you saying all the packages came with dysentery? Then he told you to treat? And now you’re saying he’s “very reputable?” You lost me back at “came with dysentery.” I would demand a refund.

A queen cell stays capped nine days, add roughly two weeks to that before you begin looking for eggs.

You say, “What happens if they need to raise a Carniolan queen?” Why would they need to do that? You’ve lost me again.

debbie
Reply

I believe she is thinking too fast and typing too furious … my gist is that since she put the Carni brood frame into the Italian hive that they would be making a Carni queen and not an Italian queen . (the ‘need’ part I believe was just the wrong instance of the word) .. me thinks ! My other thought is that the package bees had Nosema and she treated; if the pkg bees in fact have Nosema then that means the queen is gone with the wind, thus, it is only reasonable that the bees would be making a queen pronto because they know the queen is sick and will not last …… I had a pkg come w/Nosema this year as well, the bees made the queen cell w/in a few days of being hived, the queen had laid a bit, but disappeared within five days … so I think that is what she’s talking about here. Some pkg bees do come with dysentery and I believe that is because they have been pkgd, in transit for who knows how many days, and thus, cannot relieve themselves, then when hived, they just run out and start pooping all over the place. This season I saw numerous hives with new pkgs that looked stained in this fashion, in fact, one I hived myself with a student, ended up that we both were covered with bee poop because the bees just could not wait to go. I did not treat these hives, instead, I fed them well, gave them a good quality pollen pattie and requeened the hive. The hive settled down the following week w/not much of a problem. Fumigillin, I believe, causes more problems than it helps.

Also, this year is bad for queens. If she received her package during the April 18th week, the bee queens were not properly mated or poorly mated. I found this year that a lot of people had to replace their pkg queens w/in a few weeks, because the queens just disappeared, or they left and did not make it back. My belief is that early queens just are not mated well because of the fury to get them processed and sent out to the pkg distributors and trucks. Further, queen breeders have been wiped out because of weather. It is getting harder and harder to find a good, quality queen. Believe me, I have tried. I ended up making my own queens, and even then, some did not make it back from mating because of this or that reason.

All in all, this is not a good year for bees that came in packages in some instances. It’s been one queen loss after another for pretty much everyone. I hear people standing in line at the bee place talking about their queens just flying away when they opened the hive or being gone, just disappeared.

Anyway, Rusty, I thought this might help you clear up what the girl was talking about. I could be wrong, but it’s my gist of things. Gotta think like a beginner .. ha ha ! They have no knowledge of proper terms so one has to think back to the golden days before knowledge and everything falls into place ! (lol)

Maybe you can answer her intelligently this time…. hang in there .. it’s only July ! Luv your posts ! even the one about catching anything in a swarm trap ! too funny.

Rusty
Reply

Debbie,

That is a very perceptive and thoughtful answer, and yes, I think you are right on all counts.

debbie
Reply

Rusty, the beginners need you MORE than the experienced beekeepers, so, you have to stay and do the best you can. I know deciphering is sometimes hard. I still use improper words now and then when the word just doesn’t come to mind. Working with beginners keeps one on their toes. Hang in there girl, you can do it! Today is another day! Enjoy.

Mathew
Reply

Hi Rusty,

Great post! I’m a first year beekeeper and recently had a number of swarm cells in hive 1 appear. I tried to subdue their urge to swarm by adding more room using an additional brood box above them. At that time I removed one frame with swarm cells for a split and after finding the queen I destroyed what I thought were the rest of the swarm cells.

On my latest inspection I noticed that I had missed two cells which seem to have hatched out and although the hive hasn’t swarmed yet and I spotted new eggs but not the queen, I am left wondering what my best course of action is? Do I leave them to sort it out or is there action I should be taking?

On a side note the cells in my nuc have also hatched out and I’m waiting 14 days to check again for new eggs.

Rusty
Reply

Mathew,

Generally the swarm leaves as soon as the queen cells are capped, so the old queen is gone before the new ones emerge. Bad weather can change that, but that’s how it usually works. Are you sure the cells hatched and were not opened by the queen? If it were me, I would probably just let it play out since it seems unclear what is actually happening.

Mathew
Reply

Rusty, I’m not 100% certain they were not opened by the queen. They appeared as if the cap was just gone and the contents were empty.

The funny thing is during my inspection I saw what I believed to be a young virgin queen although I may be mistaken on this as well.

I think part of the reason they are so keen on swarming could be that they have an abundance of foundation to work with but not a lot of drawn out comb at the moment leaving them feeling cramped for space. Does this seem a likely scenario?

I’m in agreement, I will let it play out and check back in another 10 days or so and hope for the best.

Thanks for your input!

Rusty
Reply

Mathew,

Cells opened at the tip with a nice neat round opening emerged by themselves. Cells with holes in the side were killed by other bees.

Kat
Reply

Had a hive go queenless. Very few bees left…maybe enough to cover half a frame. Installed new queen but she must have died. There is a queen cup with an small larvae so she must have laid something before dying. So we are at least 20ish days from fertility.

Already seeing a few wax moths, tons of ants, etc. Aka Clean up crew is here.

It is July in Texas (HOT). Any chance she makes it, mates, and there are enough bees left in 20ish days to even care for brood that she lays? Seriously so few bees. I am leaning towards shaking it out and donating drawn comb to strong hives.

Rusty
Reply

Kat,

From your description, it sounds like a lost cause.

KaytiDid
Reply

Last weekend I checked my hive. There were supersedure queen cells in the middle of the frames in the center. All of the brood that was there a couple weeks before was mostly honey. Still a good number in the colony, but only a couple dozen capped brood.

I had noticed more drones around the hive lately, but haven’t noticed them cluster.

I worry that I won’t have time for the queen to be ready to lay more brood before the current population runs it’s course.

Should I wait another week before looking inside the hive? I do walk to the hive daily to check for activity.

Rusty
Reply

KaytiDid,

Were they completed queen cells or were they merely queen cups? Queen cups are often built and torn down without any intent to supersede. On the other hand, a lack of capped brood could mean the queen needs to be replaced. You can check on the colony, but it will probably manage to produce a new queen if it needs one.

Kathleen
Reply

I just came across this wonderful site! Almost 3 weeks ago, a bear attacked my hive, scratching out three frames and in the process the queen was killed. I only know this because no new eggs have been laid. The bee supplier is out of queens and said at this point, let nature take its course.

I noticed that there were 2 queen cells being developed in the frames. Four days ago, the bees swarmed and landed in a small tree just around 10 feet away. My husband and I were able to get them into a new hive setup.

I have looked at the queenless hive and it is packed with nectar. I had put a super on in hopes that the bees would spread but they stayed in the brood boxes and filled them nectar. I saw the empty queen cell and I saw another queen cell that was still capped. Do you think that the next queen will swarm? Can I put the new brood box with the new queen back on the original hive since it still will not have a queen, assuming the new queen will swarm? How soon should I check the new brood box for eggs? Thank you so much for your help.

Rusty
Reply

Kathleen,

I think you are assuming the queen was killed, but based on your report, I don’t think she was.

Generally, a swarm leaves with the old queen. In order to get the queen ready to fly, the bees prevent her from laying eggs for a couple weeks in advance of the swarm. One way they do this is backfilling the brood nest with nectar so there are no places to lay eggs. That is why 1) you saw no eggs and 2) the nest is filled with nectar.

So now the queenless hive (the original colony) is packed with nectar. That sounds right. The empty queen cell you saw may have successfully hatched, or it is possible (but not as likely) that the swarm left with a virgin queen from that cell.

No, I do not think they will swarm at this point. One of the queen cells will produce a virgin queen who must mate and will eventually begin laying in the original hive. You can recombine the two colonies if you want, but like I said, I believe the swarm most likely contains the old queen. If you combine, be wary of having two queens in there who will fight.

The new brood box will have eggs almost immediately if it contains the old queen. If it has a virgin, it may take a couple of weeks.

Kathleen
Reply

Hi Rusty,
Thank you so much for your answer! I checked the new brood box from the swarm a week later and there were eggs! So, it probably was the old queen. Wow, this is all so interesting. Did the original hive go into this plan to swarm (the queen not laying eggs, the brood boxes filled with nectar) because of the disruption of the bear attack? The original hive is so jam-packed with nectar. I put a super on top because I didn’t have anymore brood boxes in hopes that they would move up, but they haven’t put any comb up there yet. There are bees up in the super, just wandering around. I still do not see any eggs in the original hive. Do I just leave it, in hopes that there is a queen in there? I am so excited to have found your blog – it is so full of great information! I have been reading and reading!

Rusty
Reply

Kathleen,

Swarming has to do with the urge to reproduce more than anything. The bear most likely had nothing to do with it.

Eggs should show up after about 8 days, up to two weeks from queen emergence. You can always add a frame containing eggs from the new hive. If they need to start another queen cell, that will give them something to work with.

Terri Brantley
Reply

I have two hives, one original hive and a second from where it swarmed. The second, swarm hive is doing great but the original has had some problems. After finding no eggs, capped brood or larva, we gave it a frame of capped brood from the healthy swarm hive. Two weeks later, the original hive is very, very quiet with no capped brood left, but we did spot a virgin queen. I am afraid if I take another frame from my healthy hive it will be weakened, but I am also afraid this virgin queen will not start laying in time. Don’t know what to do, don’t want to lose both hives and it’s so late in the season here in North Carolina. Do you have any insight/suggestions? I love your page! Thanks!

Rusty
Reply

Terri,

You can place this hive above another using a double-screen board. See point number three in the post.

Carolina
Reply

Hi Rusty,

This forum is so precious!

I made a nuc on 5 frames the 21st of August and the 26th I found 5 QC. Now, is it correct that if everything goes well, I should find one day eggs around the 20th of September? As I will be only able to check the nuc the 27th, I wonder if these frames will be enough for the
the queen to lay…thank you!

Rusty
Reply

Carolina,

It should be fine. The new queen takes a while to get going.

Carolina
Reply

Thanks Rusty,

I forgot to say that I am in Australia, North NSW, so the weather here allows things to go very quickly. Anyway, I am sorry for my English and thank you again for your advice.

Kathleen
Reply

Thank you so much for your help! I have learned so much from this blog. Earlier I had written about my hive swarming after a bear attack, but it probably didn’t have anything to do with the bear. I now have two hives, one hive with two brood boxes of which the top is stuffed full of nectar and pollen for the winter, the bottom box is almost drawn out with brood, the bees are very active. This is the hive from which the swarm originated. I at first thought there was no new queen but now I see there must be a queen because of all the new eggs, brood, and number of bees. I put a super on, but the bees only go up there and wander around, they have never built any comb. I believe most are still working on that bottom brood box. I believe this hive will be set for winter. Now my biggest concern is the hive I set up with the swarm. I have only one box with 10 frames in that hive, the queen is there, I am assuming it is the old queen, which by the way was a new queen purchased this spring with a box of bees. That colony has only expanded to covering maybe four frames, on both sides and half of another frame. They aren’t making a lot of progress and it’s the end of August. There are lots of wildflowers and garden flowers still blooming, especially goldenrod, but I wonder if there is going to be enough for this hive to make it over the winter? I live in central Minnesota, so the growing season is coming to an end fairly soon. Do you have any suggestions for overwintering that small hive? Thank you.

Rusty
Reply

Kathleen,

Feed it syrup for now. Once the weather gets cold, change to a candy board or granulated sugar. If it remains small, you can put it on top of your other hive separated by a double-screen board. This allows the heat from the big colony to keep the small one warm.

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