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Do I need to buy a new queen?

I’ve had my bees for just over a year. They were a captured swarm from a friends house so the queen must be a couple of years old at least.
The last 2 inspections I’ve noticed less larva and the capped brood seems patchy. Plenty of pollen and honey and lots of bees. They have two brood boxes so plenty of room for them.
On Monday I found empty queen cups on the bottom of a few frames and 1 capped queen cell (I’m assuming supersedure cell because it was on the top third of a frame). Unfortunately I didn’t know it was there and the side of it ripped open when I was pulling the frame out - I could see a larva and lots of jelly.
Will the bees fix this or do they deem it a goner and start again?

I’m thinking of just buying a new queen but unsure how add her to the hive - especially as I don’t know if my old queen is still in there, or if there is a virgin queen about to hatch/already hatched and gone to mate etc.
What would people suggest I do?

My choice would be to give them another chance at it. If you’re happy with the temperament and overall genetic line you’ve already got, give them a few more weeks. It’ll save you money for a queen and the chance of rejection.

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I would have a good look and if you have eggs and really young larvae do a walk away split. One will make a new queen and the old queen will be in the other. Once the new queen is laying you could find and kill your old queen if she is not laying well. This gives you two choices, let this lot raise a new queen so you end up with two hives, best outcome. However, if you can only have one hive for some reason you could combine the hives at this point.

If you have no eggs or young larvae now I would buy a new queen, find your old queen and introduce the new queen into the hive.


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If the queen is failing but still laying eggs the colony will begin a new queen cell and there is no need to replace the queen by buying one. With your inspections take a lot of care that you don’t harm the queen cell. That is the direction I would go in as the bee colony will select their future queen.

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Thanks for your replies.
I think I will leave them be for a week or so, then do another, careful, inspection. At least I know now to look out for some queen cells!
They are wonderfully calm bees so I’d love for that genetic trait to carry on :slightly_smiling_face:

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That is a very good reason to let the colony make their own queen to keep the genetics.
I look after a hive that when I get a few metres away with my gear the guard bees are already hot. I have decided to wear a bee suit over my bee suit next time I have to work on them.

I would be pinching that queen Peter!

Good luck with that trick Peter. I come out a dripping mess just by wearing a top jacket.
I still would like to meet up with you at some stage but if you’re anything like me you’d be flat out in this beautiful spring weather here on the Sunny Coast.

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@Rmcpb Hi Rob, If I can get down to the brood box and find her she will be dispatched, that’s a given. I did a dummy rum double suited in my lounge room, it is doable and might just give me the courage to tackle the hive again on the weekend.
Guess you have lots of trees in flower about now?

Alan… I’ll be working at that hive off site probably tomorrow morning but the afternoon and Sunday I will be at the apiary if you would like to visit. I have a couple more splits to do and to make sure the colony’s are queen right. Taking some frames for extraction and inspections.
Certainly is a busy Spring with the colonies really exploding in numbers. Just as well they are making a lot of honey so I can recoup some of my investment.

They are so hot you can’t even break up the hive into separate boxes to find the queen? If that is the case a whif of CO2 and start again would be my plan.

What a brilliant idea. I managed to tame my problem hive, but if ever I can’t, a block of dry ice on top of the hive after sunset, with an empty box for spacing. Seal up the entrances first, and leave overnight - nothing should have survived.

As CO2 is used to make virgin queens sleepy for artificial insemination, I imagine it might be a pretty nice way to go for the hive too. :blush: :thinking:

Thanks for the thought, Rob.

Jeff is coming up tomorrow, I will update on progress. Jeff says with a two way effort we will win so hope the queen can be dealt with. I really hope he is right. He is talking of splitting the hive up to several colonies and take them off site out to my apiary but 30 metres separation.

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Hey Rob and @Dawn_SD , We worked on the agro hive today, maybe they sensed that had over stepped the mark last week. I have never seen them so calm. Jeff did a walk away split and we added 3 frames of un-capped and capped brood to the site hive from my own hives at the apiary and reduced it to an 8 frame hive from a 10. I was really happy to see the queen and wish her farewell. In 4 weeks I expect a new queen to be laying in a placid hive. Jeff certainly knows the tricks and I didn’t need to refer to notes to keep up with him. Good teamwork made the job quick in 32C temperature. We both suffered the steepness of the site by the time we finished.

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Good ridance to the evil queen :smile:

Sorry Peter I’ve only just re visited the forum after a long time. Too beesy with bees and a new puppy and flat out at work so no time for sitting down and reading (luxury )

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Just to update you, the agro hive has been split with brood from my own hives added so they should produce a quiet queen. Here is hoping for a quiet hive.


My colony is a split from our bee club. I’ve been advised that I should re-queen in March, 3 months after installation. I am reluctant because they are happy, calm and expanding. We put the Flow super on in December and it is jam packed with bees. We’re doing our second inspection soon to see what’s going on on the inside and then I’ll be better equipped to make the right decision. I really don’t want to kill my queen unless there’s a good reason. I’ve been reading and researching but can’t find an answer as to what to do if I find supersedure cells in my hive, leave them alone or get rid of them?

In my humble opinion, you are correct. :blush: Never kill a queen without a good reason. Well done for questioning the advice. Your bees will love you for that. :wink:

It would be good to know why you were given that advice. Maybe the club member knew that the queen was getting old, so he/she thought you should re-queen in that time-frame.

I’m like @Dawn_SD, I don’t like killing queens. The only queens I kill are queens from super aggressive colonies. I have one or two like that at the moment.

If your colony is making supersedure queens, it’s best in my view to leave them be & let them make that new queen naturally. You’ll still need to monitor the progress in 4-5 weeks to make sure the new queen got successfully mated.

Don’t worry, bee happy :slight_smile:


If there’s a new queen on her way does that mean the old one and half my bees will swarm away? I’d like to keep them all.