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Queenlessness: Signs of a queenless hive

Queenlessness

Today, we will be continuing with the topic of queenlessness. It’s important to be able to recognize when your hive has lost the queen. This is what to look out for:

  • A queenless hive can be more aggressive than usual, so make sure to wear your beesuit and use the smoker.
  • A sure sign that the hive is queenless is when there are no eggs in the hive. Check all the frames carefully for eggs, hold them up to the light and look closely. Lots of empty cells indicate that the queen is no longer present.
  • A drop in population points towards queenlessness, the young bees will be the first to disappear. As these bees don’t leave the hive, you won’t notice the dropoff unless you perform regular hive inspections.
  • A queenless hive will often have extra honey, nectar and pollen stores. This is because more worker bees will turn to foraging when there are no young to nurse.
  • Lots of queen cups at the edge of the comb, if these have no eggs in them, your colony probably does not have a queen.
  • Multiple eggs in cells, a queen only lays a single egg in each cell. If the queen has been absent from a colony for an extended period, the workers may start to lay eggs in the cells, and in that case will often lay more than one egg in each cell.


queenlessness

  • You can test if a colony is queenless by adding eggs or open brood from another hive. If the colony immediately starts building queen cells and adding the new eggs to them, it shows that they have no queen. You can then let them raise their own queen, or break off the queen cells and order a new queen. The reaction of the colony to a new queen can indicate whether they need a new queen.
  • If you have a new queen but are not completely sure that your colony needs one, place the queen cage into the hive. If the bees start fanning their wings around the queen cage, it’s a sign that she is required. If they aggressively cling to the cage or try to sting her, the colony may still have the original queen.

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