I think my new split is queenless

I’ve had a Flow hive for a year and decided on a 2nd. I did a split 4 weeks ago, taking 4 frames from Hive 1, including eggs, grubs, capped brood, honey, pollen. It’s been busy ever since and today I did a check for queen cells.

It’s well populated with bees and the empty frames I put in are filled with comb and has lots of honey and pollen. There is only one outer frame that is not fully waxed yet, it’s probably 80%. One of the older combs I put in is blackened and mostly vacant except for 20% honey along the top. It was one of the original nuc frames from a year ago and I’ll replace it once I’ve got more frames assembled.

It has capped brood but I could see no eggs and no queen cells. It seems they didn’t make a new queen. It’s confused me that there is still capped brood after a month.

It looks like I need to buy in a queen.

Queen emerge after 16 days, then it may be another 10 - 14 days to mate and start laying.

Are you sure the original queen is still in the donor hive?

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Did you find remnants of queen cells after 4 weeks?

I usually check 1 week after splitting for evidence of queen cell development. If there are queen cells present that are capped - I’ve been advised to remove them and leave the uncapped ones for better queen development.

Worker brood take approximately 21 days to emerge… so it’s quite possible that after 28 days they have not emerge as they’ve taken longer to develop.

The queen could still be on a mating flight. If that’s the case, you could add a few more frames of brood in all stages to boost the colony strength. If the split is truly queenless, they’ll start to make a queen - it’s not too late as the season is just starting.

Or you could add a queen…

I inspected a friend’s hive on the weekend whos hive was found to be queenless - appears the hive has swarmed and we couldn’t find evidence of a queen. He’s in the same dilemma now. We know how you might be feeling.

I could not see the queen when I did the split but was extra careful about checking the frames I put in the new box. I could have missed her, but I could see no eggs or grubs when I did the inspection this morning.

I tried to quote your post but seemed to have flagged it instead. If they come knocking at midnight for you, sorry about that. :slight_smile:

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There was no sign of any queen cells, so a mating flight seems unlikely.
I’ll think of adding brood frames, but I’ve only two hives so it means swapping frames from the new to the old hive again.

Does it matter if the bees swap with the frames?
Will they attack the newcomers?
Should I sweep the bees off the frames before they go to the other hive?

The old hive is super-busy and there have been lots of orientation flights since the split, and there is a lot of bearding late in the afternoon with bees a few layers deep up the front wall.

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Have you confirmed the original queen is still in the first hive?

Is there fresh brood in the original hive. If so the queen is there. You could steal a frame of eggs abpnd brood. If they have a young queen it will boost the hive. If they don’t have a queen theywill make an emergency cell. You need to check CAREFULLY in a week to see what has happened.


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Probably not in your case as the bees are from the same hive. A little smoke would not hurt also to mask up any ‘foreign’ smell. But if in doubt, I’d shake the majority of bees off.

I’ll be sound asleep by then :joy: nothing will wake me up

Good questions Kim, When I’m adding eggs to make a queen I transfer the nurse bees that are on the frame and they seem to be accepted by the established bees. Science tells us that it is only nurse bee who produce royal jelly and if that is correct then the nurse bees are essential to go with the frame. When I transfer a capped frame I remove any bees from it.
Look forward to an update,


Thanks for the info.

I have frames to assemble today and will then get moving. The plan is to remove the old blackened frame that the bees don’t like from Hive 2 and replace it with a frame of eggs/brood from hive 1, and replace that one with a new frame into Hive 1.

Now that I’ve got a plan of action it all sounds pretty simple.


You plan is the right way to go Kim, I cycle out old brood frames after two years and the bees don’t remove the cocoons from the cells so they progressively get smaller over time.

I went outside this morning and was surprised to see no bees. Normally they are backlit by the sun coming up in that direction. Looked closer and saw only two or three bees at the entrance. Looked in the side cover, 10 to 20 bees. The back cover, a few visible between the frames.

It looks like they have swarmed. I was out all day yesterday and I imagine that’s when they left. I’d hoped making the split would have prevented swarming.

I’m surprisingly upset by it.

The plan was that today I’d swap new eggs and brood into the queenless split but now I don’t know how best to proceed. I imagine they will have their re-queening process started already and I don’t want to jeopardise that by removing anything I shouldn’t.

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Further thought is that if they have queen cells on two different frames, perhaps moving one of them to the split will hasten getting a queen in that second hive.

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I’ve been delayed this week but got into both hives this morning.

Hive 1 has reduced numbers since it swarmed through the week but still strong, and there are several queen cells.

Hive 2 - the split I thought was queenless, surprised me. It now has almost all frames filled with something. There are several frames with new capped brood, lots of pollen, and about a half a frame of grubs on one frame. The new foundationless frames are fully waxed and mostly filled as well, the outer frames bursting with capped honey.

So it looks like they have a queen after all. I must have moved the queen to that hive in the split without noticing. Seeing it this morning has brightened my mood considerably.


All will be good if the hive1 didn’t receive the queen so they are well on their way to making one.
Sounds like your thinking the queen is in hive2 as your seeing larvae in the frames.
Sounds like a split well done Kim.

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