Queen–Missing in Action

This is the second year in a row that I have rushed into judgment about one of my hives being queenless.  Obviously, this is only my second year, but I hope that I soon start learning not to be so quick to panic.

So here’s what happened. As Spring finally took hold in West Virginia, my bi-weekly hive checks began.  I noticed that my Bruceton hive had a lot ( I mean A LOT) of queen cups and queen cells.  Thinking that it was time for a swarm, I removed one of my bars with capped queen cells and made a split, and added extra bars to open the brood area of the hive, hoping to convince the girls they had plenty of growing room.  In two weeks I came to the hive and found queen cells that have been opened by workers and a dead queen larvae removed.  I assumed a new queen was born, and she was offing the competition.

Two weeks more, and I entered the hive to find a ton ( I mean A TON) of male drone bees.  Further inspection of the bars found no capped brood, no brood at all which made me very nervous.  The bees were happy and calm, but I wasn’t.

(I circled the drone bees that are obvious.  They are bigger than the worker bees and have very large eyes in comparison. )


Alarms going off in my head, I’m sure I have a queenless hive.  This is a bad thing and one that needs to be remedied quickly before my workers started to do something foolish, like start laying eggs themselves.  I texted my mentor for any leads on a new queen, and I asked for advice on this great Top Bar Facebook group.  Overwhelming, the group told me to take a breath and assured me that all was well with my hive and just give it some more time.

Today, one week later…because I could wait any longer, when I looked in my queenless hive, I saw this.  EGGS!!   Bee eggs look like small pieces of rice standing on end in the center of the cell.  There was a full bar of them.  I have a LAYING QUEEN.


In the end, this is what I learned.  If the hive is acting fine and looks fine…it’s probably fine :). It might sound simple, but this is the second time a hive without a queen has made me nervous.  Maybe if I keep repeating it, I’ll learn to trust they know what they’re doing.

Doing the happy bee dance.


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