Things To Do If Your Queen Bee Is Gone

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are truly the unsung heroes of our ecosystem. Without their tireless efforts, our world would be a much less vibrant place. Beekeeping is a wonderful way to support these incredible creatures, but it’s not without its challenges. One of the most daunting scenarios for any beekeeper is the sudden disappearance of the queen bee.

When you confirm that your queen bee has gone AWOL, don’t panic. There are several steps you can take. The most common solution is to purchase a new queen for your hive. Alternatively, you can allow your bees to create a new queen, ensuring that she will be genetically suited to your local climate.

Let’s face it, without a queen, your colony is in serious trouble. It’s crucial to ensure your queen is alive and well during each inspection. Stick with me, as I’ll guide you through the essential steps to take when your queen bee goes missing.

Spotting Your Queen Bee

The queen bee stands out from the rest of your hive. She’s longer than your average worker bee and has longer legs, enabling her to back into a cell and lay an egg at the bottom.

Once you’re familiar with your queen bee’s appearance, you’ll be able to spot her more easily during hive inspections. It’s a good idea to check your hives at least once every two weeks to ensure the queen is alive and thriving.

Searching for the queen can be time-consuming and sometimes feels like finding a needle in a haystack. A reliable way to confirm your queen is healthy is to look for newly laid eggs. These eggs appear as tiny white specks at the bottom of the cells.

Spotting these eggs is a positive sign that your queen is alive and laying.

Managing A Queenless Hive

The queen bee is the heart of your hive, being the only female with fully developed ovaries. She has two main roles. Firstly, she produces chemical scents that help to regulate the unity of the colony. Secondly, she’s responsible for laying a multitude of eggs.

Without a queen bee, a honey bee can still live its expected adult lifespan of four to six weeks. However, the colony itself will only survive for six weeks to a couple of months unless a new queen is introduced.

If your queen bee goes missing, you have two options: allow the colony to replace the queen or introduce a new queen to your hive. If you choose to let the colony create a new queen, it must have occupied queen cells or cells with eggs.

If eggs are available, the worker bees will select some of the eggs and begin to raise a new queen. Once the virgin queen hatches, she will mate with drones and return to the hive to start laying her eggs.

Remember, the colony needs eggs to create its own queen. Older larvae or capped brood are too far along in their development to be transformed into new queens.

If there are no eggs available for your colony to raise a new queen, you’ll need to step in. In this case, it’s best to order a replacement queen from a reputable beekeeping supplier.

Ordering a queen bee is a quicker solution than waiting for the colony to raise a queen. If you order a queen bee, she will already be mated and ready to produce brood. There are several benefits of ordering a queen bee.

Your new queen bee is guaranteed to be fertile, providing a swift solution to a queenless colony. The ordered queen bee ensures the quality of your stock. The only downside to purchasing a new queen bee is the process of introducing her to the colony.

Welcoming A New Queen To The Hive

Once you’ve received your new queen, you’ll need to introduce her to your colony, which can be a bit tricky! You can’t just drop her in, as she’s a stranger to the colony, and the existing bees may attack her. Introduce your queen slowly to give the colony time to accept her and become accustomed to her scent. Here are three simple steps for introducing your new queen to the hive:

  1. Remove one of the frames from the brood box. Choose a frame with little or no brood, as any brood on the frame will be lost, as you won’t be using this frame again for a week.
  2. Shake all the bees off your chosen frame and set it aside for the following week.
  3. Create a space in the center of the brood box with the frame removed. This space will be used to hang your queen’s cage.

Always ensure that you remove the cork from the queen’s cage to expose the candy plug. The candy end should always face upwards when hanging the cage. This prevents any attendant bees that die in the cage from blocking the hole and preventing the queen from getting out.

Leave your bees alone for one week, and then you can start to inspect your hive to confirm that the queen has been released and that she is laying eggs.

Why Might A Queen Bee Disappear?

There are several reasons why your queen bee might have vanished. A healthy queen bee’s lifespan is between one and five years. However, there are steps you can take as a beekeeper to ensure a thriving colony with a happy, healthy queen bee.

The most common causes of a queen bee’s sudden death are disease, predator attacks, or beekeeper error.

Beekeepers who experience queenless colonies tend to check on their hives 8% less than they should. This highlights the importance of regular hive inspections. If you don’t remove queen cells often enough, you’re 78% more likely to end up with a queenless colony.

If you neglect regular maintenance on your hives and discover you’ve lost a queen bee, it could be due to diseases or poor management. Regular cleaning and maintenance of your hives are crucial aspects of beekeeping.

Beekeepers who use more specific beekeeping equipment, such as an entrance reducer, experienced queenlessness 78% less often than others. It’s a significant decrease, and any beekeeper struggling with a queenless colony is advised to add an entrance reducer.

So far, there have been no reports of queenless hives equipped with a queen bee excluder. This could be a good indicator of the effectiveness of hives that have existing queen excluders.

Interestingly, sometimes bees will kill their own queen. If the queen is producing hungry, lazy, and sterile males, then bees from the hive may decide to kill her. This allows one of her daughters to become the new queen, producing reproductive male heirs.

How To Safeguard Your Queen Bee

Now that you know what to do when your queen bee goes missing and the potential reasons for her disappearance, you might be wondering how to protect your queen. To reduce the risk of queen loss, consider the following methods:

  • Regularly check on your hive.
  • Remove queen cells if you’re happy with your current queen.
  • Regularly clean your hive.
  • Use an entrance reducer.
  • Use a queen bee excluder.
  • Provide necessary medication to your bees.
  • Only split your hive when necessary.


The gravest scenario following a queen’s death is that the worker bees fail to successfully raise a new queen. A colony without a queen cannot survive for long. The absence of a queen bee affects the behavior of worker bees, often making them aggressive or agitated.

Worker bees may lay eggs, but they will only produce drones as they are not fertilized. Drones do not collect food or perform any work, so the number of productive bees will decline until the entire colony disappears.

The entire colony will become stressed and highly susceptible to pests and diseases. As a beekeeper, the only way to rescue a queenless colony is to introduce a new queen from outside the hive.

If your queen bee is gone, it signifies a major challenge for your honey bee colony. Without a queen, the hive is rendered practically non-productive, leaving the colony vulnerable and in danger of collapse. Her absence, whether through death, removal, or swarming, can indeed pose a significant threat. If you notice the absence after the honey flow, the probability of raising a new queen is low, and the hive may die in the cold months.

In such cases, there are several steps you can take to accept the situation and move forward with replenishing the hive.

1. Verify The Queen’s Absence:

Firstly, you need to be sure that the queen bee is truly absent. Perform an inspection on two different days. During the inspection, you should be looking for eggs or very young larvae, which indicates the presence of a queen bee. It is because only the queen has the ability to lay eggs.

2. Check For Queen Cells:

After confirming the presence or absence of eggs, begin searching the comb for queen cells. These are larger, more elongated cells appearing like peanuts often along the edge of the honeycomb. If there are no queen cells found, despite having abundant resources, there is a high probability that your queen bee is absent.

3. Determining The Next Step:

Several options are available for you at this point. Remember, time is of the essence, as each day brings the colony closer to its possible demise. Here are three different strategies you can employ:

a) Let The Bees Raise A New Queen: Bees naturally have the ability to raise a new queen, but it all depends on the availability of bee larvae. If fresh eggs or larvae less than three days old are present, the worker bees can create a new queen by merely feeding this young larva with copious amounts of royal jelly. This process, however, will take time – upto 16 days for the queen to emerge and an additional one to two weeks for the queen to mate and start laying eggs.

b) Requeen The Hive: Another way to save a queenless hive is by requeening – introducing a new queen to the hive. The benefit to this is that an introduced queen is usually already mated and can begin laying eggs immediately, thus minimizing downtime. It is crucial to introduce a new queen carefully, as worker bees may see her as a threat and kill her.

c) Combine The Colony: If your hive is weak, you may be better off combining it with another colony. Merging the two would mean that the queenless hive now falls under the original queen’s rule.

4. After Introducing A New Queen:

Following the introduction of a new queen, re-evaluate the colony within a week, looking for signs of acceptance. If the hive has accepted their new monarch, you should see fresh eggs and young larvae. If you cannot find eggs, the colony may have killed the newly introduced queen, resulting in persistent queenlessness.

In conclusion, the queen bee plays an integral part in the survival and productivity of the honeybee colony. Therefore, her absence is detrimental and needs immediate attention. Ultimately, the approach you employ is dependent on multiple factors including the time of the year, overall strength of the colony, and resources available. Always keep a close eye on the hive and take action accordingly for the welfare of your beloved bees.

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