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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Didn't find the queen

    Hello all- I'm a new beekeeper, it's my first year. I have one hive and so far everything seems pretty good. I have read a lot and of course this is something you need to experience to actually be efficient in and I'm on a hard learning curve for sure. I have taken the stance of not checking on them weekly as some books recommend for beginners ( i guess to get to know your hive and whats normal)but instead I go two - three weeks between checks. I've found this to be alright and I would feel bad disturbing their work more frequently. I am able to identify brood, hatching bees and eggs (when the light allows) and have found the queen every time.
    Well, a couple weeks ago, I opened the hive, the brood pattern is even and looks fine, lots of brood surrounded by honey ( really heavy frames!) but I wasn't able to find the queen. Is this normal? She IS marked for me so a bit easier to identify. Now my hive has grown rapidly and there are many more bees than the pervious times I've opened it. I placed a second super with queen excluder on top after they had about seven frames filled out. There hasn't been much activity in the top part but now the deep super is nearly full and I expect they'll start working on the top one soon.
    Also, one thing that concerned me about not finding the queen was a formation that had the look of a super endure cell at the top of one frame. Now it was only one and I'm not sure that's what it was.
    I'm going to inspect them again in a couple days to see how things are going.
    They seems happy and productive, calm when I'm in the hive. From what I've heard, they'd be more upset if they were without a queen. I wasn't able to see eggs but I was in the shade and it was very hot so I didn't spend too much time looking. I'm in Texas so the suit gets a bit hot quickly and they are in dappled shade so it can be hard to see the eggs ( full sun would be WAY too hot).
    So any reassurance would be helpful. I may worry too much but I want to be successful.
    Also, what is the likeliness ill get honey to harvest for myself this first year? We've had lots of rain and the flowers are a plenty. I know they need a super of their own for winter but we have VERY mild winters here and was wondering if I'll get some of my own honey to enjoy from them.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Pierce/Thurson County, Wa

    Default Re: Didn't find the queen

    I grew up outside of Houston, so I know about heat.

    Okay, here is my suggestion. Put a can of coke in your freezer, drink something really cold, put on your bee suit, go out, do not look in your supers, just at the brood frames. Haul them into the sun, if you see eggs, you have a queen. It is not important that you see the queen every time you open the hive. Maybe she is having a bad-antenna day. Once you see eggs, close up the hive, go inside and grab that can of coke from the freezer and hold it in your hands. Think about the way people hold onto a cup of hot chocolate when they are cold, same idea. Oh, and drink it too.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Ashburn, VA, USA

    Default Re: Didn't find the queen

    Hi Anne:
    I'm a first year beekeeper too, so I’ll relate some of my experiences from the past several months. I have two hives and they are also doing pretty good. I haven't seen the queen in my first hive since mid-April. There are tons of bees in this hive. I'm not concerned because I see larvae and capped brood in a strong tight pattern on each inspection. That tells me she's there and doing her job, so I really don't need to see her (although it would be nice). I never see eggs because I'd need reading glasses to spot them. I photograph some frames to zoom in and study at my leisure on a computer later on and I see eggs then if the angle is right. Mostly I just go by larvae and capped brood and I know she's been working there within the last week.

    I also see queen cups regularly, but they are at the bottom of the frame, not the top. You may be seeing an odd looking drone cell. The cells I see in my hives have all been empty and not capped. I think the bees just build them to have them around in case they need them. You can pinch them or remove them with a hive tool, or just ignore them. I've ignored them and there have been no issues.

    If they've filled a super with honey, then you have honey. Look at what blooms in your area in the fall and see if they will have an opportunity to build up from those flowers. Goldenrod for example. Take a look at the thread in this forum about when to take off supers. I started it because I have a full super and was also concerned about winter feeding. The advice I received was extract the honey and if they are light on stores going into winter...feed them syrup. That's what I plan to do.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Starkville, MS

    Default Re: Didn't find the queen

    Don't worry when u don't see the queen, it's not that important, as long as u see brood in various stages, she's there. I did a thorough break down of a hive today, checking on a potential problem, and saw the queen, haven't seen the queen in that particular hive in over two months. Just goes to show that physically seeing her isn't that important.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Winhall, VT

    Default Re: Didn't find the queen

    Waiting three weeks to do an inspection during swarm season is a recipe for your bees heading to the trees. Cracking boxes and looking on the bottom for swarm cells doesn't hurt the bees and helps you keep them. If you don't mind them swarming then you can look whenever you want.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A


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