View Full Version : How long can hive live without queen?

10-12-2010, 07:37 AM
I have six hives in my backyard. A three-year-old hive was very strong in the spring. During late very early July, I noticed the bees at that hive were very listless compared to the other five hives. In mid-July, I checked and did not find a queen, so I ordered one from Kelley Bee. I installed here on August 1. After three weeks, I still did not find any brood. I spoke with Kelley and they said to wait longer for the queen to start. They finally sent a replacement queen six weeks ago and I installed her. We found the old non-laying queen and removed her first. I checked in a week and the new queen was released fine and the activity seemed more normal again at the hive. I just went into the hive yesterday to check for honey stores for winter. The population of the hive was good, but still no brood. Could the bees have lived more than three months over summer without a queen or did the new queen probably lay and she just stopped this fall? I live in Cincinnati, OH. The other five hives have larvae and capped brood so those queens are still laying fine. I have always read that bees live only about six weeks other than over winter. If this is true and my new queens did not lay, shouldn't the hive be dead now?

Thanks, Jim

10-12-2010, 08:32 AM
Bees live about six to eight weeks during the months when they are actively engaged in gathering stores. When the hive is stressed by losing a queen the workers do not forage as much since they are not feeding brood, so they will live longer. The colony seems to lose its vigor and the bees sit around a lot. Yes, those bees may live several months.

Quite often when a colony goes queenless a worker will lay eggs, but since they were not fertilized the resultant brood is all drones. If you see drones in worker cells, you have a drone laying worker. (occasionally you may find a drone laying queen too)

I am surprised that neither of your queens laid for you. Usually within a few days a new mated queen will start laying. You should see new brood within a week if the queen was mated. It is unusual to see a colony without brood when they have a queen, unless the queen is failing.

This year I got some bad queens. I don't know what was going on. One was a drone layer, and a couple of others just died. It is possible to get bad queens.

10-12-2010, 08:57 AM
My bees here in Ky. won't live that long. I think that 42 days is a good rule of thumb. So some where around 6-7 weeks mine would all be dead. They will live longer when they aren't working but thats why I gave them up to 7 weeks.