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Maybe a stupid question but how old can a larva be for them to turn it into a queen? When is it to late and that larva would just be a worker? I mean obviously if it’s capped it won’t change.
 

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i always heard if it looks like a comma, it's good. if looks like a c it's to old
Which is basically three/four days. IMO, A question is never stupid because by its nature someone is asking it for an answer;) I am sure a queen can be attempted to be made after three days, but the quality will be lacking due to not receiving copious amounts of royal jelly prior..
 

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Maybe a stupid question but how old can a larva be for them to turn it into a queen?
I agree - there's never such a thing as a stupid question. Mind you, sometimes answers can fall into that category, LOL :)

At around 3 days, the diet given to the larva changes. It used to be thought that larvae destined to become queens received a superior diet, but apparently it's the reverse of this - the soon-to-become queens continue to receive the standard fodder, it's the worker-larvae who receive an impoverished diet, which results in them becoming 'not-quite queens' - but some still manage to develop partially functional ovaries even on that diet, which can cause laying worker problems later-on, if circumstances should provoke this.

So - as Fields says - three(-ish) days is the cut-off point for a reasonable queen. As early as possible for a really good one.

The bees however, will do the best they can with whatever they can lay their hands on - even to the extent of trying to make a queen from a drone larva if their situation should go completely pear-shaped.
LJ
 

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Workers also get some pollen in their chow, which apparently is inhibitory to developing ovaries.

Three days (since hatching) seems to be the outer limit. Queen breeders graft at half that time (36 hours).

Nancy
 

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Even if the larvae chosen is a suitable young age colony conditions like scarcity of food or temperature control can limit the potential of a queen in terms of laying rate and perhaps the lifetime total number of eggs.

That said, beyond some time around day three after hatching, selection for queen conversion of a larvae will develop into a so called "caste" queen. Caste queens exist on a sliding scale of capabilities and traits from very slightly compromised, to almost to sterile. Size becomes quite noticeably affected as you approach conversion to queen rearing of a larvae 5 days after hatching. That would be the extreme limit though.

The bees will normally never select a larva that old if younger is available. We know that in a pinch when hopeless that they will even start a cell around drone larvae. To be certain of not having a caste queen a person would have to destroy all cells started for a week after the queen was removed.

A caste queen is almost impossible to find and a curse to have in any colony. I would bet some hives that seem impossible to requeen might be for that reason.


Edit, Enjambres is quite correct that three days after hatching is the limit for a fully functional queen. Unusual circumstances though can produce caste queens beyond that time frame.
 
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