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Queenless hive, what to do now?


Hi I had put this under another old thread, but I thought I would start a new one.
My poor bees, On my last inspection last week I found my hive is queenless. No eggs, no brood ( well probably a couple of hundred) or larvae, she was lost about 3 weeks before I think. I had done inspection during the time she had died and this inspection and noticed less brood, but there was larvae, but in hindsight there was only large ones. I have a nucleus on order, but it will be about 25 days from today. The bees have become very aggressive. They are storing heaps of pollen, (no babies to feed). I hope to combine what’s left of my bees with the nuc using news paper method, is this the best way, or put nuc on hive stand and shake off my bees in front of hive and let them barter there way back in has been another suggestion put to me. What do I do with all the pollen frames, (about 3- 4 frames). Can it be stored and given back to them later? The hive also has a full super of honey, I thought I would leave that on for the nuc. Another thing I wondered why they made no attempt to raise their own queen, no queen cups or cells.
Any feedback would be appreciated,


You might be able to buy a queen for your colony. There are queens available on the East Coast this time of year and I expect you can get them in WA too. The sooner you requeen the better. You want some bees the right age to nurse the brood when the eggs hatch.


My suggestion is along with sciencemaster, order a new queen ASAP. You might need to ring around but some breeders will be happy to post. I have a couple of queenless hives at the moment and have been feeding them brood frames with eggs from a sister hive for several weeks but to no avail. I think once the adult bees become older they no longer are able to perform the function of the nurse bees and create a new queen. The only option in this instance is to introduce a new queen, or merge your other bees with them using the newspaper method.
Also, consider having two hives, that way should you end up in this situation again, a frame of brood and eggs will really help… that is if you have the space to do it.


Thank you for the replies, I had ordered a queen, but here there is at least a three to 4 week wait. By then it will be to late, no nurse bees. so I decided to order the nuc. Rodderick I am building a new hive at the moment so this doesn’t happen again.The nuc will come with nurse bees as well as capped brood and new queen. I might ask for a frame of capped brood to boost the hive till nuc arrives. Thanks again guys.


Hi Rod, & @Timbo2 when you add frames of brood, make sure there is a large % of hatching bees on the frame, as well as eggs & or very young larvae. Do this every 7-10 days. I guarantee that strategy to eventually work.

PS. it’s worth remembering that if you have a laying worker, she is only a worker. It’s my guess that she will only live as long as a normal worker. That being the case, by adding brood every 7-10 days, the bees naturally have to eventually make a new queen.

I know that a laying worker hasn’t been mentioned in this thread, I just thought I’d add that bit.

The trick is to not give up on adding the frames of brood every 7-10 days. While you’re at it, remove any daggy frames out of the brood.


I checked Michael Bush’s site to see if he mentioned how long a laying worker bee lasts. He didn’t but he did suggest the same technique as you. He maintains a colony will generally start making queen cells after two or three frames of open brood have been added. If the frames were added every 10 days, then the laying worker might only last a month.



Yes I agree with most posters, adding emerging brood eventually works.
Queenlessness like this is one of the most obvious reasons for having at least two hives.
I know it doesn’t help @Timbo2 now but the advice to start with two colonies might help others.
By the way, when you have laying workers there are always LOTS, not just one.


Yes, lesson learned Dee, I’m making up boxes in preparation for second hive now.:slightly_smiling_face:


I see on gumtree queens are readily available in O’connor.


Are you sure they didn’t swarm and you are what I call “between queens” or when there is a new queen in the hive that isn’t laying yet?


Hi skeggley, I contacted them and there is a 3-4 week wait.


Keep making them @Timbo2… you’ll end up doing a split and suddenly you have more than two! I’ve just gone from one to eight! (caught a few swarms)


Hi Ed, I read somewhere that new beeks (like me) are mistaken about their hive being queenless 3 times out of 4, so I will be having a look inside today, if there is a queen she should be laying by today. I don’t think they swarmed, it’s in our back yard and we are around it all day. There is still heaps of bees in all 3 boxes.


Hi Paul my wife’s eye brow went up when I mentioned, I’m thinking of getting a second hive.:wink:


Does she need to know Timbo? Yeah, I guess she does… unless you have a sympathetic neighbour who might like a hive as well. Then you can share at will.


Now there’s an idea!


Hi Dee, I never knew that there would be more than one laying worker. However it makes a lot of sense when thinking back to some of the brood that laying workers have laid over short periods of time.

The thing is, what to do with all those frames of unwanted drones, especially in SHB areas. I found a solution. Run the hive tool over the tops of all the drone brood & place them in between brood frames of strong hives, no more than 2 per hive. The bees will discard the damaged brood & clean the frames up ready for worker brood to be laid.


Hi Timbo2

I started with 2 hives in early September. By early October, one of them also went queenless.

I just got my nuc last Sat and I reset the hive, as taught by a mentor. Remove both the boxes (BB and rotation box) and added a new BB. Inserted the frames (with the new queen) from the nuc into the new BB.

Took the old frames out to the other side of the garden and shook all the bees off them. Then replaced the frames into the rotation box and placed it on top of the new BB. As there were extra frames with honey, I added the 4th box onto my other hive. Hope that works!!

Will know the answer this weekend when I inspect it!! Fingers crossed!


Hi Aaron thanks for the information that’s good to know how to go about it.


I had an inspection of the hive today and found some larvae (not heaps but some) a small patch of capped worker brood about 50 mm across (could be left over still from the original queen) I can’t see eggs with my eyes. So not sure, the larvae look about 4/5 days old and a little patchy. Not sure if I have a queen or laying worker. If it is a laying worker they will become drone brood, is that correct? If so I’ll check it in about a week and see.