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Have I Lost My Queen?

iopened my hive up for the first time this week. upon inspection I couldnt find my queen. There were some grubs which look to be roughly 10-15 days old, but no new eggs are visable. Is there still time to introduce a new queen this spring?

Is it possible that they swarmed? If so, they would have made a replacement queen before they left. It can take a while for a new queen to get mated and start laying, so before you order a new queen, I would look again in a week or two for eggs.

Thanks. there are definitely fewer bees in the hive, but not less than usual spring levels. There was no evidence of a queen or queen cells but I’ll check again soon. At what point would needing a new queen become needing a whole replacement nuc?

Hard to answer without seeing the population numbers. If you see larvae that are 10-15 days from the time the egg was laid, you had a queen in there 10-15 days ago. Depending on how much brood is there and how many bees, you should be OK for at least 2-4 weeks. If they made a queen and she emerged around 10 days ago, she would take about a week to feed and grow, then another week for mating flights, depending on the weather. Recently mated queens often take another week after that to settle down to a good laying pattern, so that would be 5-6 weeks after the swarm left.

The main risk in waiting is developing laying workers. This doesn’t happen until there has been no uncapped brood for at least 4-6 weeks, so if you use the timing I gave above, you should be OK.

I am sure that you know that the main risk of introducing a new queen is that if the hive has already made their own and she is alive, they will definitely kill your nice new queen. That is why I suggested waiting.

By the way, looking for queen cells is a great idea, but I have had bees tear them down within a couple of days of the queen emerging. So if you don’t find any, it doesn’t mean that you are queenless. :wink:

If you have a beekeeping friend or club willing to help, if they gave you a frame of eggs and young brood to put in your hive, you would soon know if you are queenless. If they make a queen cell right away, then you were. :blush:

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Hi @Jon_Luke - it’s kind of a nail-biter, isn’t it? :grimacing: I have two queenless colonies with eggs & larvae, and when I go in on Saturday I hope to see a fully built and capped queen cell where there was one started last week, and another one started in the other colony.

Good luck to you & let us know how the situation develops! :crossed_fingers:

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you mean actual larvae? If so they can’t be that old. They become capped brood after 8-10 days. If there is larvae visible then you had a queen for sure within the last 8 days. And they would be the largest larvae you can see: filling the bottom of the cell. If they are smaller again then your queen was active only 4 or 5 days ago. Not finding a queen and not having a queen are very different- it can be quite hard to find her. have another look and maybe you will spot an egg- they are hard to see- but if you spot just one you know you have a queen at least in the last few days.

there’s a handy chart here:

http://blogs.evergreen.edu/terroir-zack/life-cycle-of-the-honey-bee/

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The 10-15 day old grubs had me doing a double-take too, but when I read Dawn’s post and she didn’t say anything I thought I remembered wrong! :exploding_head:

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Uncharacteristically, I just decided not to pick nits, split hairs or be a doubting Thomas on this one occasion. When I am less distracted by family illness, I will get back to my usual form. :crazy_face:

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Sorry to hear about a family illness, my friend! Hope things get better soon :cherry_blossom:

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