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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    San Francisco, CA

    Default Too late to re-queen?

    Hi everyone,

    Is it too late in the season to re-queen?

    I'm a relatively new beekeeper (had my have for about 4 months) in San Francisco, CA. I just completed an inspection and it looks like the queen is gone.

    My last inspection was ~2 weeks ago, and everything was fine at that point.

    Today I saw:
    - No queen (normally I see her right away)
    - No larva in cells
    - No eggs
    - 3 empty queen cells (all at the top of the frame)
    - Lots of bees, and lots of stored nectar/pollen

    I'm tempted to let the hive do it's thing and develop a new queen, but I'm not sure.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA

    Default Re: Too late to re-queen?

    I don't know if it's too late to re-queen in your area, but the hive can't raise its own queen if there are no eggs. If one of the queens that hatched, doesn't mate and return the hive will be in trouble. You could wait and hope, but I'd check and see if there are any queens available locally and ask that person their opinion of installing her at this point of the season. With only one hive, I don't think you have any other options than re-queening if you want this hive to have a chance to survive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Washington County, Maine

    Default Re: Too late to re-queen?

    You'll need someone local to you to advise you on timeliness - Here in Maine you might get away with introducing a mated queen, I doubt a virgin would find drones to mate with.

    This is one reason you hear people talking up nucs. If you have a queenrite nuc it isn't that big a deal to combine it with a hive missing a queen.

    It sure sounds like you need to do something or the hive won't overwinter. There are many sources for mated queens in California listed in the bee magazines. I suggest talking with your local beekeeping association to see if there is anyone close to you raising bees local to your area, and if so might a mated queen be available? Giving a new queen gets to be routine for the beekeeper after a while but the new beekeeper fumbles the installation half the time. Which is a long way of saying you should prepare yourself for the hive not to make it though winter despite your efforts and to be pleased if it does!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Lincolnton, NC

    Default Re: Too late to re-queen?

    Since you saw 3 open queen cells, there is a good chance you have a virgin queen in the hive. I know you don't have much experience yet, but you may be able to tell from looking at the cells if they have just had a queen to emerge. Check out Michael Bush's website. Also, this late in the year, she may not get mated well (lack of drones) and you may want to requeen in the spring if you do have a new queen. If you introduce a queen into a hive that already has a queen, she will be killed. A virgin queen is much smaller than a mated one. She is not much larger than a worker but, at least with my Italians, she has the coloring of a queen. That's my opinion.

    Good luck.

    If you look for her, remember that in the middle of the day, she may be out on her mating flights.
    Last edited by heaflaw; 10-17-2012 at 08:55 PM. Reason: Added last sentence

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2012
    DFW area, TX, USA

    Thumbs Up Re: Too late to re-queen?

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    Since you saw 3 open queen cells, there is a good chance you have a virgin queen in the hive...snip....

    With three empty queen cells, you should check again in a week to ten days for eggs. Eggs would mean you are back in business.

    There are apiaries with queens available this late. One is Joseph Clemens in Tuscon. I don't know if Lauri, in Roy Washington, has any or not.
    Last edited by Lburou; 10-17-2012 at 08:03 PM.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Clifford Township, PA

    Default Re: Too late to re-queen?

    I think you might better describe what you refer to as "empty queen cells."

    There are what are often called "queen cups," partially constructed cells which, though larger, have never seen a developing queen larvae and were never capped. Then there are the actual queen cells, which had supported a developing queen, had been capped and now show the signs of an emerged queen. (A fully elongated cell with a rough, browned-edged hole in the very tip from which a queen emerged.)

    You may know all this and can recognize emerged queen cells and. if so, I do apologize, but before one can say you have a virgin running around or will have a laying queen in 10 days, it's good to be sure what you saw weren't simply queen cups.

    You do need to open the hive and take another look at the state of the queen cells.



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