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Queen outside the hive, going for a stroll


If I had not seen it I would not have believed it. I was at JeffH’s place late yesterday afternoon and low and behold, a mated queen and attendants about 3 or 4 metres (roughly 12 feet) from her hive walking about. She appeared to be fine and Jeff worked out which hive she belonged to and placed her at the entrance where she was welcomed back inside.
To me that puts the story to rest that a queen stays in a hive unless it is to swarm. Has anyone else seen that?


Hi Peter, like I was saying, it makes you realize how easy hives can go queenless, then finish up with laying workers. That was all new to me also. Actually, she could have fell on the grass during an inspection two days earlier. She must be blessed because I could have stood on her while I was doing all of that mulching. Then I found her on that piece of wood. Then found the queenless colony. Then lost her again, only to find her again at the entrance of your colony.


She surely was a lucky B…


Same for me today at Tewantin during a check on two brood boxes I have up there. After checking all the frames and also seeing if I could spy the queen (I didn’t see her), I’d put all the frames and lid back on and I just happened to look about 6 ft away on a paver and there she was. I was shocked :fearful:. I don’t know if I had thrown her over there with some wax or what. So put her up on top of the frames and she quickly disappeared back into the hive. That was a warning for me not to be so casual in pulling frames.


When I reported this on the forum a while back (seeing a queen take flight during a routine inspection), I think it was @JeffH who indicated or thought it might be more likely with a young queen.


Same thing happen to us a couple of months ago. Found a queen wandering around aimlessly on the ground a couple of hours after inspecting the brood boxes of our 3 hives.
We placed her at the hive entrance of where we thought she originated from and she appeared to be welcomed.
A couple of weeks later we found one of the other hives was queenless and were in the process of raising emergency queen cells. I assume our guess of where she belonged to was incorrect.
Is there any trick we could have used to determine which hive was queenless?


I’ve had one fly off!
The standard advice is to stay put in case she has used you as a landmark but half an hour later I gave up.
She was back at the next inspection… phew!


There is no way of knowing for sure which hive the queen has come from without knowing which hives have a queen. For that reason I prefer marking my queens.

It makes doing splits a lot easier in the Spring when swarming is likely to happen and easier to find when doing hive inspections if you want to have a positive sighting of the queen for some reason.

In your situation if the queens were all marked it would be a matter of placing the ‘wandering’ queen in a cage then checking the brood areas to know which hive didn’t have the queen then releasing the queen into the right hive.

I have one queen marked in my hives, the rest have thus far evaded me, they love playing ‘cat and mouse’. As you are on the Sunshine Coast if you like we could help each other out with an extra pair of eyes.


this spring I found a queen on the ground- at first I thought she was a drone- she was wondering about- and looked fine except she had no wings! I assume she was ejected and had her wings ripped off for good measure! I placed her on the entrance- at first a few bees seemed to be trying to feed her- then one of them marched up and with a mighty kick unceremoniously sent her off the entrance back down to the ground. A few weeks later they had a new monarch.


Yes @Peter48, I take your point that if the queens were marked it would make finding them a lot easier.

In our inspections of the brood I don’t deliberately set out to find the queen, only evidence that she has been there recently, ie evidence of eggs or larvae. As a consequence I probably only see the queen on every 3rd inspection.

I have never marked my queens but are seriously thinking of doing so but with different colours for each hive. That way if I did find an queen out of place I would know where she belonged to straight away. Not the correct way of using the colours to distinguish the years but adapted to suit our smaller hive numbers.


Most times you are looking for brood to confirm the queen is there and laying but being able to find her if re-queening or doing a split it is so much easier if she is marked.
I like your point about color coding the queens so you can know which hive she belongs to if you find a queen outside of the hives. I have seen this recently and heard of others having wandering queens so the ‘old adage’ that queens never leave a hive except to swarm is simply not true. I was with Jeff recently in his apiary with a queen outside the hive after it being disturbed as well as others.