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Am I Queenless?

I am wondering if I may be queenless.
On May 23rd I first spotted the queen during my second hive inspection.
The single deep was getting full so on May 26th I added a second deep.
On June 3rd I inspected again and could not find the queen. Capped brood, larvae, honey, pollen but no sign of eggs.
Could I have rolled her adding the 2nd deep? Swarmed? (though there still seems to be lots of bees)
It’s still my first month of beekeeping so am I worrying too much? Should I double check for queen & eggs once it stops raining?



Hi Andy, I’m guessing you didn’t see any new comb being built in your second box? The queen cups I see could easily just be regular play cups. It does look like you added the second box at a good time, because your pics show all drone comb on those frames (or was that the same frame?). A lot of drone comb can be a sign of a colony in the early stage of swarm preparation, that if you leave alone will progress to the next stages that can be trickier to pre-empt - at least in my opinion, for beginners.

I saw these rather young larvae in this shot, the smallest of which indicates that the queen was there about 3 days before you took the pic:

However, these would be drones - did you by chance see any of this size on any worker comb frames? If so, your colony had the means to make a new queen if the previous one was lost, and might be working on that at the moment.

Edit: looking more carefully at the third pic, the bees seem concentrated on the middle four frames, of which you’re holding one that appears to be drone comb. Give us an idea of how the rest of the frames looked - how full, how much worker brood, food stores, and were they covered with bees?


Hi. I’m new too and I cannot see why those are obviously drone cells. - To me, they look exactly like the others (hexagonal and about the same size). Perhaps I am missing a subtle variation?

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Hi John, the raised caps that look like popcorn are drone cells. Worker cells have flat caps and a good frame of worker brood will look like a fairly uniform semi-circle with a small arc of nectar & pollen surrounding it at the top edges.

In the second pic many of the bees on that frame are drones, prob having recently emerged from the cells on that frame.


thanks - i was using the second photo as the sole reference so I neglected to take in the bigger picture!!!

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the last photo, I mean!

It’s hard to spot the difference when you first start. I would definitely google images of worker brood and drone brood, and also practice queen spotting. I’m not sure if you’re on Instagram, but Flow routinely posts queenspotting challenges that are really fun to do! Also Hilary Kearney posts challenges too, and she has an amazing book called Queenspotting that has tons of pictures, great information, and interesting stories of her beekeeping adventures. She’s also on Instagram. You should check her out! I learned so much from her, and I owe my queenspotting skills to her… I find my queens every time now!! The book helped me that much!

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Check in those queen cups for larva. They are small so they could very well be “play cups” as Eva mentioned. If there’s larva inside, keep an eye on it and look to see if the bees are building up the swarm cell (it’ll look like a big peanut) in the next week or so. If so, that means they’re making a mew queen and preparing to swarm. You could do a split, but being a first year beek it might be too adventurous. It’s not difficult to do, just more to manage. Adding boxes and giving them more space can certainly change their minds about swarming. I didn’t do any splits my first year, just kept adding boxes, and they were fantastic!

There are so many directions you can go in… so do lots of reading and watch videos, ask for advice here, until you feel comfortable with the decision that you made. Trust your gut and have fun with it!

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OK so I’m going cross eyed squinting at all the frames.
No larvae in the cups.
New comb under construction in the second deep.
Now following Hilary Kearney on IG.

Can someone with more experienced eyes check over the following pics?
I took a shot of a single side of each frame. Everything look good or trouble afoot?

Lower deep:


Upper deep

Not worth getting #10 out of the box :man_shrugging:

Lots to look at I know so thank you for your time.
I have an opportunity to acquire a new queen in the morning. Should I take it?


I see larvae and capped brood in number 6 on the left. Also on other frames.

Is that her with her bottom in a cell on the lower right corner of frame 5? :man_shrugging: new to this too. Love looking at the frames.

She is marked with a blue dot so I don’t think that is her. Thanks for looking!

Hiya milfodd, all looks perfectly normal to me, healthy colony with a laying queen. Quite a few drones so watch for QX’s.
Next time you may like to shake the bees off the brood frames to get a good look.
And don’t focus on looking for a blue dot when looking for the queen. :wink:


Skegs, did you mean QCs? I see a row of cups or possibly larger ones along the bottom of frame 6.


Doh, Yes :pleading_face: my bad, thanks for correcting me Eva.
Ooh caaaaake.


Happy Cake Day buddy! :sunglasses::+1:


No this is a drone, you can tell by the big google eyes. Drones also have a fat round butt. Queens have a longer, pointier abdomen, longer legs than the rest of the bees, and also a bald shiny black back.

So beautiful!! This colony looks amazing, I would not requeen this at all! Frames 3 and 4 of the lower deep are packed full of capped worker brood, and 5 and 7 of the lower deep are capped drone brood.

I can see a queen cup at the bottom of frame 5 on the upper deep, but it’s just a cup as opposed to a larger more developed queen cell. Those literally look like peanut shells. Haha! When looking into cells, definitely get the sunlight on the frame, you’ll be able to see much better. And if the bees are completely covering the frame and you can’t see what’s underneath them, you can GENTLY use the back of your fingers to GENTLY touch the bees and they’ll move out of the way… and I can’t stress this enough, be GENTLE! Hahah

Soooo where did you get this colony? They really look amazing. Keep up the good work!


Thanks for the feedback.
I installed the nuc at the start of May. Overwintered bees from Betterbee near Albany, NY.
I’ve had them open a bunch recently so I’m attempting to wait patiently a few more days before checking in again.

I might try them out someday if I need another colony (which probably don’t, but they’re addicting! :joy:) What breed did you get?

During swarm season I go in once every 7-10 days, then as summer progresses I’ll stretch it to every 2 weeks. Always have a reason to pay them a visit!

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