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Did I lose my queen?


Second year of my flow hive, super strong colony which did swarm in the Spring. Put a new queen in, end of summer colony is back big time, two full briod boxes and a nice honey harvest from flow frames (about 20 lbs)
Six weeks later, It’s a while different story, looks like I have laying workers? Did the queens die or is she simply not laying and workers try to take over?
Anyway it is too late now to replace the queen so my last question is: hive is still very full of bees, can a strong cluster survive north California winter without a queen?
Thanks in advance for your help!


Were there any eggs in there?


It might be just the angle, but to me it looks like some worker brood is there too, and an awful lot of larvae. I would wait a few days and check to see how the cappings look on them. Otherwise, adding a frame of brood from elsewhere is always great and will boost numbers even if they don’t make another queen.

Good luck!



Yes Larvae is present, capped and uncapped


Thank you all, I will wait a few days and take some more photos to see how this evolves. I am too inexperienced to see eggs yet… will also try to look for the queen on next inspection


They can be hard to see through the veil. Perhaps shake all the bees off and move somewhere safe and warm (perhaps inside) and take off the veil. Have the sun shine on the frame and use reading glasses to look into the cells. They are very tiny - usually just one at the bottom of the cell if it is from the queen.


I also see some capped worker cells. Have you shaken any bees off those frames? The bee numbers look very low. You may have a failing queen there. A full frame of brood, especially with lots of emerging bees would really help that colony. Going into winter may be a problem.


With that laying pattern you could only hope she is gone. Maybe check Hawaii for queen.


3rd picture down, top left on top bar perhaps?


Well spotted @skeggley. I agree… an interesting looking queen. But get rid of her and replace ASAP and, as @JeffH says, you’ll need to add a decent brood frame from another hive in to boost the numbers. Also, feed 1:1 syrup to stimulate the new Queen into laying.


Is there a queen cell right in the middle of the 3rd image?


That looks like a damaged supercedure queen cup.


Given how many larvae there are in the photo, I’m wondering if the bees have replaced their dodgy queen already and the new one is just getting started. I would give it a few days to see what the capping pattern looks like then - she might be a good one after all!


What only one well spotted Skeg!
And there I was feeling so proud of myself…
It is an interesting looking queen though, no shiny back and dark orange abdomen like I’m used to seeing, I wasn’t sure if it was a virgin or just a freak…
Hopefully it is a virgin. Or rather was when the photo was taken. :wink:


Thanks all for your input, much appreciated.
I have not shaken bees off the frames, not too many bees on them… yet two brood boxes currently make the hive
Unfortunately that’s my only hive, I don’t have access to an extra brood frame
I have a feeling that this hive is being overtaken by varroa… have seen too many deformed wing bees in the hive so I won’t try to requeen.
Will inspect one last time to check for the queen and take / post more photos
Queen was replaced in the Spring from a VSG reaistant stock which I ordered online after my hive swarmed and did not requeen. I suspect it may have failed because varroa levels are killing the hive… I should have treated in August, last year I only treated end of November (vaporized oxalic acid) so I thought I would follow the same… not this year looks like!


It looks like you have a laying queen there. See what that brood turns into at the top of the 3rd photo down. I would remove some of the poorer frames & then put the bees into one super.

If those drones are in drone comb, that’s fine. If the drones are in worker comb as well as workers in worker comb, that would indicate to me that the queen is failing. I could be wrong. What I would do in weeding out the frames, is weed out the frames that contain the most amount of drone comb.

You may find that by putting them into one super, plus the fact that you could very well have a laying queen, your bees might survive the winter.

I’d suggest insulating the hive well, & treat for varroa, if needed.


Well done skeg :innocent:

Couldn’t find her myself, even with your gps tips…


Why not treat with OAV now? Nothing to lose. I would do 3 treatments at 5 day intervals. You don’t want mites transferring to any other hives anyway, so if you treat this one, you can at least knock down the mite counts available for spreading infestation. :blush:

VSH queens do not guarantee that you will not need to treat. My mentor says that 50% of his VSH hives need treating. You still need to do mite counts and decide whether to treat. I have had to treat 100% of my VSH hives in the last 2 years, based on mite counts or visible DWV effects.


I will follow your advice here for sure and treat now for OAV.
Will post soon after. Thanks!


Found a queen! Not the one I put back in April after my first swarm (She was marked unlike this one)
So… hive probably swarmed end of Aug (it was full of bees and brood!) and now I have a new (poorly mated) queen which also makes super aggressive bees!!!
Never ending surprises! Gotta love beekeeping!
Now that I know there was a nice break in the brood cycle I am not sure I will treat for varroa (vaporize oxalic acid)?

Thanks again for all your help