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Spotting a virgin queen bee


Has anyone got any tips on finding a newly hatched queen? Is she significantly smaller than a mature one?

One should have hatched yesterday or today from a swarm cell… i have already moved the old queen out. I was planning to have a look tomorrow.

I’m presuming, if there is a virgin queen already hatched, i should destroy any other swarm cells she hasnt killed to prevent the virgin queen swarming? Is this right?


Easier to look for a queen cell that has opened. How many queen cells did they make when you removed the queen? Is it a strong colony? The time to thin the new queens out is when they are still in their cells. Ie before they have emerged.
I ask because a strong colony will throw an afterswarms or two or three before they settle. Even experienced beekeepers find locating Virgin queens difficult.
A virgin queen is much smaller than after she has mated and she doesn’t have her guard of honour to point out her whereabouts


I was fortunate enough to hear one piping - it made her very easy to locate! Other than that i’m afraid i don’t know - still pretty new to it!


It is a very strong colony. 2 deep 8 frames with about 50% capped brood across the two boxes.

When I took the queen out there were at least 10 queen cells or cups, probably more.


Has anyone got any tips on finding a newly hatched queen?

My recommendation is not to try…

Is she significantly smaller than a mature one?

Yes. And faster. And better at hiding. And reclusive.

I’m presuming, if there is a virgin queen already hatched, i should destroy any other swarm cells she hasnt killed to prevent the virgin queen swarming? Is this right?

I would not.


Why not? My major motivation in preventing swarming is that I’m in an urban area. I can’t see how to assess whether the new queens are likely to swarm, other than if she doesn’t kill off the other queen cells. Would the other option be to split the new queen off again?


Hi @Dunc,

I am guessing that you have already made a split and your old queen is with the artificial swarm…? and if your motivation is just to stop swarming you could split a couple more times to get two or three nucs and separate all the Qcells (two in each). Should dissuade them from cast swarming.


Yep, I’ve got one nucwith the old queen. I’ll have a look today to see if she’s killed off the other cells.


Good and bad news. Most of the queen cells had hatched. No sign of swarming. Two capped queen cells in the top corner of the top box.

However, there was no sign of the former queen in the nuc. I’ve put the two capped queen cells in the nuc box , to increase my chances of still having a queen after all this.


The ONLY time I EVER destroy a queen cell is if the genetics are something I abhor and wish to avoid. Destroying queen cells is a good way to end up queenless. Why destroy them? Swarming is a function of the state of the hive and the stage of a process. If the hive is less populated, or the population is spread out more now, then they are unlikely to swarm. Nothing you can do will guarantee they won’t swarm. Bees will sort things out. I would let them. Swarming is not the end of the world. I would try to avoid it, of course, but odds are if they swarmed the neighbors would never even notice.


The bees usually work everything out for themselves :wink:


Lovely photo, Ed. I have never seen 2 queens on one frame in my hives, fascinating to see it.


Classic supercedure; I’ve seen it go on for days, weeks, months.


I’m a bit paranoid about swarm control. If the swarm moves into the neighbors wall cavity, they’ll certainly notice it.

It’d be ok for us to stand in the yard wearing a pair of shorts & t-shirt while bees are swarming (as I did the other day). At the same time the neighbors could be all inside the house with the doors shut… Then the next thing you find out is that people are complaining.


Hi Dunc, my strategy is a bit different to others. I break every swarm cell down when I find them. I like to allow a split to make emergency queen cells, it gives them more time to wait for the emerging queens & hopefully suppress those bees desire to swarm. If I find a strong hive with charged & well advanced queen cells, I take every frame of brood out to unite with weaker colonies, except for one, minus the queen cells. The frame with the youngest brood, I put that in the middle, just in case I have accidentally killed the queen & fill the rest of the brood box with frames of wax foundation. Then take a look in a weeks time. Normally the desire to swarm has passed.

Getting back to the emergency queen cells. If I have more than one frame containing queen cells in a split, I’ll often use that frame in later splits if I want that split to produce a queen a bit faster.


I’ve definitely got a lot to learn!


Hiya Dunc, have you got drones flying around there?


Yep plenty… weather is going to be pretty wet this week though!


Yeah right I’ve seen none yet up here.
Cold, windy and wet. I’m really looking forward to some warmer weather so I can get into the hive to see what’s going on in there.
We do need the rain though. Last time the weir overflowed was in '96.


To spot a virgin just look for a bee wearing sandals over white socks pulled half way up to the knees lol