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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 17th year of beekeeping in April 2022. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Queenless Hives: What to do? What to do?

Today I had an opportunity to check on the L hive which was queenless on April 11. That afternoon I added a frame of brood and eggs from my friend Julia's strongest hive. I hoped that this would help them make a replacement queen.

Today I looked at all the frames and there is no sign of a laying queen. If they had made a queen from one of the eggs from Julia, they should have a queen within 14 - 16 days. She would need about five days to get her act together, orient to the hive, and then it would be time for her mating flight. So she could be potentially mating as we speak or they could have not been successful.

The hive wasn't angry, but they had no eggs and brood.

In these two pictures are both sides of the frame of brood and eggs that I put in the hive on the 11th. You can see opened queen cells - two on the first side of the frame.

And three more on the second side of the frame. That they are all opened, some in the above picture, with the sides ripped out, might indicate that one of the queen cells was a success. They certainly tried with that many emergency cells, although it's typical for them to try to make about 6 cells in these cases.

In Aristaeus2 I had put two frames of brood and eggs in that hive about a week ahead of the L hive - one from Mellona and one from the swarm hive. Then about 10 days ago, I added a third frame of brood and eggs in case the first queen had not worked out. I saw a beautiful queen cell in this hive from the first frame of brood and eggs that I gave them. So below you can see the insurance frame that I put in 10 days ago from the swarm hive. They simply capped the worker brood and did not use any of the many eggs for queen cells.

This would argue that they had successfully made a new queen but again there was no brood in the hive. That queen should have been laying about a week but her mating flight may have been delayed by the stormy weather over the weekend.

We are in the middle of the nectar flow and I can't stand it not to have these two hives doing well. As a matter of fact, my only at-home hive that is doing well is the swarm that showed up and moved in on Easter.

So I called this man who raises queens. I see him every Saturday at the Peachtree Road Farmer's Market He is bringing me two queens to buy on Saturday. I don't know what I'll do with them if these two hives take off over this week!

Meanwhile, I know help is on the way on Saturday. At worst I'll make a small split into my medium nuc and let any unneeded queen have a home there.


  1. I have one Hive with no queen. no larva and no brood. its mid september and its getting cold outside already. I have two supers. the bottom had brood at one time but nothing at all now. the upper chamber now has almost nothing but food and honey. I really and truly don't know what to do now that winter is right around the corner. there are now queen cells but lots of bees. A bee keeper here says to right the hive off. 724-263-0231 please help!!!!

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Wont they just come back next spring and repeat the process without a queen?

  3. The answer to most queenless hives going into fall is to combine it with another queenright hive. A queenless hive will die without a queen and won't make it over the winter. I don't know what you mean that they will come back and repeat the process. The bees will die without a queen and that's the end of the hive. That's why the beekeeper said to write the hive off. It isn't going to make it without a queen to continue laying eggs and replacing the bees.

  4. Anonymous12:27 AM

    My hive swarmed on May 31. I captured it and I now have two hives. The swarm hive is going strong but the original hive is extremely quiet. It's been six weeks since the swarm. How long does it normally take for a hive to recuperate following a swarm?

  5. Have you done an inspection of the hive that swarmed? If extremely quiet means you see no bees coming and going, your original hive may have absconded because of a problem as in all the bees left and you simply housed them in a hive without whatever was the problem in the original hive. Most hives keep going as usual after a swarm and often the beekeeper doesn't even know the hive has swarmed unless he/she sees the swarm happening. The queen leaves with about half of the hive but the other half keeps functioning. In about three weeks the new queen, if she survives mating and returns to begin laying eggs, should be functioning and the hive should continue looking normally active. If the new queen does not survive, then the hive gradually dwindles and then dies, if the beekeeper doesn't interfere. If you inspect the hive, you should see signs of a laying queen and if you don't (assuming there are bees still in the extremely quiet hive) then give that hive a frame of brood and eggs from hive #2 so they can make a new queen.


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