Can’t Find The Queen

Here is a question from 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? thanks4 beehives

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.

Can Take A While To Find The Queen

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! )

Verify She’s Out Of The Cage

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.

Look For Eggs Instead

queen bee laid eggsSo 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.

Should Have Eggs Within a Week and A Half

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!

Here are Some Tips on Finding the Queen by Ken Thompson

If the queen has not started to lay eggs don’t look for her. Just take out the middle frame each time until 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.

Also too much smoke at the entrance can make the queen run to some where she can be hard to find.

3 Steps to Follow to Help You Find The Queen

  1. Choose a good sunny day.
  2. Use just enough smoke to calm the bees, not to send them running
  3. Lift the crown board about an inch and let the smoke drift slowly under it again keep the bees calm and above all be gentle, you don’t want the bees to run or panic.

If you follow these first steps your half way to finding the queen.

Frames Tell A Story

hive framesTreat each frame like a book that has a story to tell and follow the clue stake out the first frame if you have kept the bees calm it is unlikely the queen will be on this frame, it will most likely be stores.

Leave this frame out so you have plenty of room to lift other frames without rolling bees between frames as you lift them out, go through each frame till you find the pollen frame.

Queen Should Be On Brood Frames

brood frameYou should now be entering 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.