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I've just killed my queen


(… not on purpose!)

Am letting them requeen as they please (because Michael Bush), will be moving queen cells to the queen castle with brood and honey for each, and here’s what I’m wondering:

I’ll be opening the hive 10 days after making them queenless. how many queen cells should I expect to see? 8 frame hive has 3 medium supers. I’m in San Francisco in case that matters.

Many thanks as always!


Hi Olivier, you could find a dozen or more queen cells. I hope there are some drones in the area for mating purposes.

Unless you want to split the colony now that you’ll have all of those queen cells, I’d leave it be & let the virgin queens sort it out.

Now that you’re coming into spring, you could split it 3 ways if you wanted to. Turn the negative of accidentally killing the queen into a big positive.


I once found 36 and a few virgins wondering around


WOW!!! Hadn’t the first emerging queen killed all the others? I thought that always happened!


That’s what films about bees would have us think. I’m not sure what really happens. Bees prevent emergence quite often, keeping the queens confined but fed and protected from any other virgin. If a colony is going to produce afterswarms the bees corral the emerging queens, having chosen one, till she is ready to fly, a swarm will go then the next queen is let out. In a strong colony this is repeated till the bees have decided they are the right size to raise the next colony and the queens are killed.This fine tuned arrangement is often completely demolished by the beekeeper opening up the hive and disrupting all the guarding This hive wasn’t in swarm mode, it just produced a lot of emergency cells.


So the queen was killed 10 days ago. Yes, definitely dead. Currently simmering in alcohol for pheromones.

I opened up the hive today, excited to transfer all queen cells to nucs and castles.

How many were there, do you ask?

None!!! There were none!!!

As the Sicilian would say, “inconceivable!”

Not a single capped queen cell in evidence in the entire hive. I found 4-5 empty queen cups in the entire hive, no torn down or chewed-out queen cells.

No open brood of course. Lots of bees, and a decent bit of capped brood, but that’s it.

What were they thinking?!!!


Was there any open brood when you lost the queen for the bees to make new ones?
The next thing to do is to put a test frame in from another hive; a frame of brood with eggs and young larvae. Shake the bees off. You should look in four days to see if they are drawing queen cells


Yep, lots of open brood! It was a strong hive. Hence my total bafflement at their refusal to use said open brood to make new queen.

Have given them 4 frames of brood in various stages from a nearby booming hive.

Have you ever seen something like this?


Yes but only when trying to make a walk away split. I had one that refused to make any queen cells till I had put in the third frame.
4 maybe overkill unless of course they draw QCs straightaway.
I put one in, they sealed it, then another but they finally got their act together on the third frame.
Let us know how it goes.
For next time if you have regular supers a good way to get QCs drawn is to take frames of open brood out and put them in an empty box made up with either drawn comb or foundation. leave the bees on but make sure the queen isn’t on them. Go back to the old brood box and replace the frames you took out with foundation. Put an excluder on, then two supers with honey in, then an excluder then your box with brood. The queen will continue to lay downstairs and the bees on top will draw QCs. You can keep this arrangement going all summer by swapping the brood frames out continually
We call it a Demarree