Can't find queen

by Mike
(Quakertown,PA)

Hi, I started with a 3 lb box of bees, install went good, three days later queen is out of her cage. But I couldn't find her. I was looking for about 15 minutes. I didn't want to disrupt them to much, they are starting to draw comb.

I WANT TO WAIT A FEW MORE DAYS BEFORE I look for her again. Is it a good idea to wait? thanks

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Hi Mike,

Yes, it is indeed a good idea to wait. You're right to not want to disturb the bees any more than necessary. That's true at any time, but especially for a newly installed package.

Instead, wait several more days, and then do another hive inspection.

But don't worry about finding the queen. It can take quite a bit of time, and can involve going through every single frame of the hive to find her. Especially if you're new to beekeeping - though even experienced beekeepers can take quite a bit of time to find a queen.

(And especially if you're TRYING to find her. I spot the queen most frequently when I'm not trying / don't need to find her! )

And though there are occasions when it is essential to physically find the queen, this isn't one of them. All you really need to do at this stage is verify that she's out of the cage (which you already know), and that she's laying eggs.

So when you open the hive next, I wouldn't even bother to look for the queen. Instead, just look for eggs at the bottom of the cells. They can be hard to see, but you should be able to spot them. And if some of the eggs have hatched, you'll be able to see the little larvae curled up in the bottoms of the cells.

When you see that (eggs or larvae) then you'll know that the queen is doing her job, and all is well. No need whatsoever to find the queen.

If you don't have any eggs or larvae in the hive within a week to week and a half of the queen being released, then you have cause for concern. At that point, I'd recommend that you contact your package supplier.

Good luck!

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May 01, 2012
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How long can you wait to check for eggs?
by: mary

We installed the bees on the one day that didn't rain - it was beautiful - has been pouring buckets ever since (mid-missouri). It is about 9 days later and all i have been able to do is feed them and last night it stopped for an hour and i could see the queen cage was empty but that was all i could manage b/c it was getting late.

how long can i wait before i really need to verify that she is laying and all is well? is it worth it to risk the rain and tick them off a bit?

the second question is - if you have time - i am reusing frames from last year (lost the queen in late fall). how quickly will they need the next brood box in comparison to a hive where the frames were all new and not largely drawn out?

fwiw - i had the local aviary check the frames to make sure they were safe to re-use.

much thanks from a very wet missourian.

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Hi Mary,

First question: It wouldn't bother me to go as long as 2 weeks before verifying that the queen is laying. About a week is ideal, of course, but oftentimes 'ideal' just isn't possible.

Surely you'll get some kind of a break within that time frame. Probably with just a quick peek you'll spot eggs and be able to confirm that all is well.

As you know, the more unpleasant the weather, the more unpleasant the bees tend to be. So I can't recommend that you open the hive while raining. So I'd just wait for a break. You might not be able to wait for a perfect, sunny day, but I wouldn't open the hive in the rain.

Second question: Whether you've started with foundation or drawn combs, I'd add the next box when roughly 3/4's of the frames in the first box are being used - either drawn or being drawn, in the case of foundation, or being used for brood or nectar storage in the case of drawn combs.

Good luck, and I hope you get a chance to dry out soon! (And I think you're getting some of our rain, and we want it back!!)


Dec 05, 2012
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Finding the Queen
by: ken Thompson

If the queen has not started to lay eggs dont look for her. Just take out the middle frame each time untill you see eggs. It is only when she starts to lay that she slows down and is in the part of the hive where you would expect to find her ,olso, too much smoke at the enterance can make the queen run to some where she can be hard to find,if you (1)choose a good sonny day.(2)use just enough smoke to calm the bees,not to send them running (3)lift the crownboard about an inch and let the smoke drift slowly under it again keep the bees calm and above all be gentle,you dont want the bees to run or panic.If you follow these first steps your half way to finding the queen .I will finish this on another page as i have no room left here.

Dec 05, 2012
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Part 2 of finding the queen
by: Ken Thompson

if you have read my first part,treat each frame like a book that has a story to tell and follow the cluestake out the first frameif you have kept the bees calm it is unlikely the queen will be on this frame,this frame, it will most likely be stores,leave this frame out so yoy have plenty of room to lift other frames without rolling bees between framesas you lift them out, go through each frame till you find the pollen frame,you should now be entring the brood frames it is on these frames that the queen should be because this is her work place and 9 times out of 10 she will be here doing her job which is laying eggs. IT is good if you can learn to hold the frame with one hand,and starting at the top of the frame with the other hand gently pat the bees and they will spread out using your hand in a zigzag manor go through the frames in this manner till you find her.

Dec 05, 2012
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Part 2 of finding the queen
by: Ken Thompson

if you have read my first part,treat each frame like a book that has a story to tell and follow the cluestake out the first frameif you have kept the bees calm it is unlikely the queen will be on this frame,this frame, it will most likely be stores,leave this frame out so yoy have plenty of room to lift other frames without rolling bees between framesas you lift them out, go through each frame till you find the pollen frame,you should now be entring the brood frames it is on these frames that the queen should be because this is her work place and 9 times out of 10 she will be here doing her job which is laying eggs. IT is good if you can learn to hold the frame with one hand,and starting at the top of the frame with the other hand gently pat the bees and they will spread out using your hand in a zigzag manor go through the frames in this manner till you find her.

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