how to find the queen

How To Find The Queen 

Finding your queen honey bee can be tricky. In my queen rearing classes I explain how to raise a large number of queens per week. Or how to raise just a few quality queens for yourself. It involves grafting one day old larvae and placing them into a starter hive for 24 hours. Then, moving them into a finishing hive another 10 days. Then placing the cells into mating nucs. It can be overwhelming to the beekeeper who simply wants a few queens to bolsters up a bee yard. 

There is good news. It doesn’t have to be that complicated and today I want to show you an easier way to capture 5-10 queen cells in 12 days and never have to graft or use a starter or finishing hive.

Your colony is constantly monitoring your queen. Her pheromones continue to be the signal to all the bees in the colony that everything is fine.

It is important to know how to search for the queen on the frame you are holding. Queens often go back and forth from side to side. Sometimes as fast as you turn one side over, she crawls to the side you cannot see.

How To Inspect A Frame To Find The Queen

1. Scan the frame for a larger bee (the queen) with a larger thorax. Start your scan from the outside edges of the frame. This way you’ll see her before she crawls to the other side. Work your way from the edges into the center.  

2.  Do a grid scan. Many beekeepers try and look at every single bee. Scan the frame as the Coast Guard would scan the ocean for survivors, by a visual grid. My eyes are grid scanning the frame, not looking for just one bee. That blue dot on her back helps!

3.  If you have one of one day old eggs, standing straight up in the bottom of a cell, inspect that frame carefully. Keep looking on both sides and around the edges. She was on that frame today! If you do not spot her, check the two frames that are beside this one. 

Hold frames over the hive when looking for the queen, in case the queen falls off she will safely land in the hive.

Symptoms Of Queenlessness

  1. No visible eggs anywhere in the hive. Unfortunately to confirm you have no eggs you must look at all brood frames. This means as many as 5-6 frames in the center of each hive body box, so a total of 10-12 frames must be carefully searched.
  2. There is no visible sign of the queen.
  3. Do you have queen cups or cells? Cups are queen cells that are not sealed yet. If you have cells, they are replacing her and you should let them. If you do see any eggs or a queen they are not swarm cells because there is no queen to swarm.
  4. If you do not see any eggs or queen cups or queen cells,  IT DOES NOT mean you do not have a queen. They may have replaced a queen and now the new virgin queen is out on a matting flight or is walking around, who knows where, in your hive. Re-inspect your hive after 6pm when the virgin queen is sure to be back from a mating flight.
  5. If there is still no sign of a queen, wait 5 days and reinspect for eggs, a queen or cells. If you still do not see any sign of a queen, buy a mated queen.
  6. Make sure you see eggs.elow is good evidence you have a queen. 

Consider taking our online queen rearing course by clicking here.