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Is my hive queenless?


Hi There,

I am a very new beekeeper (based in the Eastern Cape in South Africa), I purchased my first hive three weeks ago.
Upon the first inspection, I have noticed that the brood box consisted of 9 frames, only three of which had comb (which was all grown together across the frame and not straight down as the one frame seems to be broken.)
I tried to look for brood then, but was nervous to break the comb as it kept falling off the frame.
Two weeks later, I checked up on the hive, and already another 4 frames have been filled with Comb and nectar, but still no signs of brood.
I fear that my hive may be queenless. Please see pictures from my latest inspection (of the new comb made) and tell me if you see any resemblance of brood?
Otherwise, I may have to buy myself a queen.

Thanks in advance!



Hi @NFOURIE, I’m still a beginner too but have had bees for two seasons. I tried to find eggs or larvae in your photo and could not! From the rest of your post I worry that you received a poor ‘product’ to begin with - only 3 frames with any comb, stuck together and a frame broken. All placed in what I’m guessing is either an 8 or 10-frame brood box, with 6 empties. This isn’t the normal way a nucleus colony is supplied - in most places a nucleus colony, or “nuc”, consists of 5 full frames of drawn comb, at least 3 of which are mainly of brood in various stages from egg, larvae to capped pupae and emerging bees. The other two frames will have mainly honey and pollen stores. Any decent seller would guarantee there is an actively laying queen, and the population of workers/a few drones should be enough to visibly cover all the frames. Nucs are given to customers already placed into smaller boxes that are made to contain just the five frames. You can then transfer those into a regular (8 or 10 frame) brood box, but as you can see even if you only have empty frames to add, there is still a better ratio of bees to space in the box.

Other more experienced beekeepers will hopefully weigh in here, but if I were you I’d contact your seller and ask some questions.

Good luck and please let us know what happens :thinking:


May be a few capped brood cells at the top of the photo, just below the capped honey. There isn’t a huge amount of pollen on that frame though, and the bees can’t feed much brood without pollen. If you have any photos of the other frames, we can help you hunt for what is going on.

If they have really been queenless for 3 weeks, you may not solve it by purchasing a queen, as you won’t have any nurse bees left to take care of her brood. I agree with @Eva, going back to your supplier would be the best idea. The other option would be to ask another local beekeeper to help you out with a frame of capped brood and eggs, as @Vestigialamentum is too far away to consider asking him.


Continuing the discussion from Is my hive queenless?:

Hi there. Thank you so much for your comments. I have a few more pictures here . I am going to phone the guy tomorrow and see why there’s no queen. Really hoping that I can save this hive. The only thing I can think to do is buy a queen as I don’t know anyone that would be able to assist with a brood comb .


Thank you for the extra photos. I agree with you, no brood in there.

I think you would be wasting your money if you bought a queen, but let me explain a bit.

When a worker bee emerges from her capped cell, she spends the first 3 weeks of her life as a nurse bee. Nurse bees secrete wax and royal jelly. As they age, they get less efficient at secreting both of those and they become foragers. Foragers are very poor at secreting royal jelly, and not great at wax production either. Royal jelly is needed by all bee larvae for a few days after they hatch from the eggs laid by the queen. If the nurse bees are all older, they won’t be able to make enough royal jelly to feed the new larvae, so your queen will not be able to save the hive.

If you give the hive a frame of capped brood, the newly emerging bees would be able to feed newly hatched eggs. So if you were going to buy a queen, you would definitely need that frame of brood at the same time. The decent thing would be for your supplier to give you a frame of capped brood and a mated queen. Not sell it to you, give it to you. It would be the right way to fix the poor colony he sold you, unless he is willing to replace it with something of much better quality.

Just my humble opinion. :blush:


I can see heaps of pollen on those frames dawn- actually bee bread? did you zoom in?

@NFOURIE it does look as if there is an issue- when one of my hives went queenless this year the frames lokked very similar- lots of honey and pollen but no brood. As Dawn said if you can find somewhere to get a frame or two of capped brood- with some eggs- that will give the bees the resources they need to make their own new queen if they need one. It will keep the colony ticking along.