Drone laying queen?

I did an inspection of my long hive today… I found a huge number of drones walking around, along with lots of drone brood. There was also capped worker brood, but no open brood. The only reason I found this unusual is that I couldn’t find a single egg and only one larva in a drone comb. There is no signs of swarming (queen cells etc), but equally no signs of a queen really. Is it a drone laying queen, but then where did the capped worker brood come from? There are no supercedure or swarm cells, so what else could I be looking at here?

What I see is drones in drone comb & workers in worker comb. All queens lay drone eggs, as long as they only put them in drone comb. You will see the occasional drone brood in worker comb, which the queen can be forgiven for, as long as it’s only one on the occasional frame.

When I see a lot of drone brood, mixed with worker brood in worker comb, I take steps to replace that queen. She is either a failing old queen, or a poorly mated young queen.

When I see only drones in worker comb, I don’t even look for the queen, I fully suspect a “laying worker”. Then I take appropriate action in order to rectify that situation.


Thanks @JeffH thats what I thought. I guess my concern is why is there no eggs and also no sign that the queen has left?

That’s difficult to answer. If the queen died for some reason, you’d think that you’d see emergency queens being made. Whenever I have any doubts at all, I’ll give a colony a frame of brood containing worker eggs. Then I’ll check in 5 days to see if the colony is building emergency queens on that frame, or look for further evidence of an existing queen.

Your colony might be in a brood break for some reason. The only reasons I can think of is: A dearth in honey & pollen, or not enough nurse bees to feed a lot of young larvae. Maybe there are some eggs that you failed to spot.

Anyway what I would do is give the colony that frame of brood I mentioned.


Thanks again @JeffH i think I will start with your plan of giving them another frame of eggs and see what happens.