Unable to find queen and no eggs, what to do?

Hello All,

I am new to beekeeping however we cleaned out an existing hive and within a few days a swarm has moved in.

They were obviously attracted to the existing drawn comb and frames of honey.

We have a national hive with double brood box and one honey super.

The swarm colony is strong and we have bees on each of the brood frames, supplies of nectar and pollen.

A week after the swarm moved in we inspected the hive and the bees are very calm. Unfortunately we were unable to locate the queen and no eggs are present.

We are not sure of what action to take if any? I did read that prior to swarming workers will stop feeding the queen to reduce her size to assist with flight. This could explain why we did not identify her.

We will inspect the hive next week. Should no queen or eggs be present please suggest some options?

Also how much time do we have to act as we would not like to loose such a strong colony of European honey bees.

We are located in the UK and will be coming into summer soon. At present we have a lot of swarming activity.

Would a large colony swarm without a queen? Any advice provided will certainly assist with planning our next move.



You might have a swarm with a virgin queen which will mean she will need a week or so to go out breed with drones and then start laying. So I wouldn’t necessarily be concerned yet. However it is possible that the queen was killed or lost during the mating flights so it is still possible that your swarm is queenless now.

Hi Simon, congrats on the large swarm, if you can locate a friendly beekeeper who is willing to sell you a frame of brood that contains some worker eggs, that would be all you need to do. Insert that frame in the middle of the bee mass. Put the best looking frames either side of that brood. Take a look in a weeks time for either queen cells or new eggs from the queen with the swarm, it’s a good opportunity to remove some of the daggy frames as well. Use the best looking frames with the highest % of worker comb for the brood box.

Dexter is right. Three weeks for a virgin queen.
If the bees are calm, the cells in the middle of the brood nest are polished and being kept free of nectar she’ll be there.
Take one brood box off.

Thankyou everyone very helpful information indeed.
We did notice initially that the bees seem slightly smaller than usual perhaps a young colony. Hopefully they need just some time to mature and get everything in order. Last inspection did indicate that they were using the top brood box for food storage and we did re-locate the queen excluder therefore creating one brood box and one large super. Hopefully the queen is in the lower section where from memory we did identify lots of empty drawn comb.

After receiving your advice gut feeling is that she will be present and we just need to be patient. I did spot a single very dark coloured bee that was the same size as the workers, perhaps this was her.

If the queen did die in the swarming process wouldn’t the swarm have turned back and returned to the original location?

Or yes perhaps she was lost during a mating flight.

Fortunately this hive has ample capped honey, including some discoloured fermenting honey I guess. However they seem to be doing an excellent job cleaning and chewing away at old honey. Also no sign of pests or disease at this stage.

If this good size colony proves to be a success we have five good months ahead of us. Do you think we could possibly harvest honey in the first season, we will leave one super full of honey and feed to be safe over winter.

Great to know your thoughts…

Shall let you know what we find over the next coming weeks fingers crossed it will be a success.

Good to know we also have some good options should we need to take action.



Hello All,

I just wanted to advise that we waited two weeks as suggested to perform our next inspection. The great news is we identified eggs, capped brood and the finally the queen and she is quite large. The brood pattern is excellent and no signs of pests or disease. All in all a great result. Thanks again for your great advice and excellent suggestions.