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When Should I Check the Queens?

Wednesday, May 25th when I made my swarm prevention split, I rolled/lost the queen.
The following Wednesday I made an additional split with some of the emergency queen cells that were subsequently created and left the remainder in the parent colony.
If my math is correct, that makes tomorrow, June 6th the 12th day since killing the queen and the bees starting on a replacement with day old larvae. The 12th day from that point is Hatching day correct?
(there may be an earlier hatch in the initial split as some swarm cells were moved)

When is it okay to inspect again?
Do I go in to see what hatched and tear down remaining cells if there was indeed a hatch or just leave that to the virgin queen?
The weekend of June 11-12 would be mating flight time. Wait until after that maybe?

Oh, and when should I steal emerging brood from my other hive so there are young nurse bees around. After I see the new queens are laying?

Any guidance would be appreciated.

Hi Bobby,
The 16th day is hatching day for queens. The 9th day is when the queen cell is capped. So after the 9th and before the 16th you are safe to check for capped queen cells. This the best time as a capped cell verifies that you have a viable queen. Careful inspecting virgin queens (after the 16th) as they can be a bit flighty and you don’t want to lose her. Just make sure you have at least one fully capped queen cell in each of your splits and you should be right. If there is more than one, thats OK, leave them to sort it out.

@Rodderick, did you read my post?
16 days is from the date the egg is laid.
Bees don’t pick an egg to raise as a queen, they choose a larva. That assumption would screws up the bee math.

I had capped emergency cells 5 days after losing the queen. That means they chose and used 1-3 day old larvae.

OK, I see what you are saying now. If today 6th June is hatching day then you may not see any laying from the new queen till 10-15 days later (21st June). No harm in checking for a queen in a few days time but she may not be there and could be on a mating flight, its hard to guess, some queens remain in the hive for up to a week to ensure no other queens emerge, I would check again after the 21st june for the presence of eggs.
If your bee numbers in the hive are low then a frame of sealed brood is a great way to boost numbers, this is a judgement you’ll have to make based on bee numbers and existing brood in the hive and what you can spare with impacting your other hives. Its better to have one strong hive over 2 or 3 weak ones.

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I took a 5 frame split from a double brood Italian hive. 2 frames mainly honey, 3 frames full of brood in all stages and totally covered in nurse bees. That was 10 October. I never looked inside in the belief that no disturbance is best.
Today is 28 October, so it’s day 18.
After 24 hours the first bees started flying.
Now for the last 2 days almost all returning flying bees bring back pollen.
Could it be the new queen is already laying?
The weather was fairly fine the last few days, with occasional showers.
Is it ok not to give them another brood frame?

You need to look to know… :wink: But I think you knew that already.

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I am at day 28 and can’t see any eggs in my split or the captured swarm hive. Am trying eggs and brood from another hive to see if they do anything with them.


Thanks all. We did have a lot of rain after the split, but on day 12 I put my ear to the box and it was as noisy as any big colony and I heard cracking noises and sort of like queen quacking. The next 3 days were very quiet inside and now a nice hum, but lower volume than the big hives. And building noises, like hammering and breaking.
They have 3 empty foundationless frames in there too.
I am reluctant to look inside in case the the queen is out flying.

I just wonder if it is at all possible that the new queen is already laying on Day 18, because they bring in so much pollen.
For the additional frame I would consider brood about to emerge to supply extra nurse bees.
Is my thinking on the right track here?
Hi Jeff, yes, I keep excellent records. Hoping it’s a way to learn faster so it won’t take me 30 years to get to your level of understanding bees.

It is possible, depending on the stage of bee they chose to raise as their queen. If it was a 3 day old larva, it would be another 11-12 days for her to emerge. If the weather was great, and there are plenty of drones, I can’t see why she couldn’t be laying again within 3 or 4 days. It might not be common, but it is possible.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_bee states that a queen can lay as little as 23 days after being an egg. That would be 17 days for a 3 day old larva.

However having said all that, bees don’t just bring in pollen when they have a laying queen, they bring it in when it is available. They are legendary hoarders - when it is on sale, stock up! I don’t believe much in hive noise, even though I have an Arnia monitor. I think you can read anything you want into the sounds you think you are hearing. Only the bees know the truth. :wink:


It’s just that the other hives’ foragers bring about 10% pollen, whereas this one 95%. They sure must know something I don’t.

Bees always do. :blush:


Hi Dan, that’s an excellent plan. I did that myself yesterday.


Ok, although I’m itching for a peek. But I waited that long, so can wait longer.
That’s likely why I’m looking for signs on the outside.
On day 12 I definitely heard queen sounds, so there has been a queen then, inside or outside her cell. And the amount of pollen brought in now, compared to the other hives, is staggering.
I feel like an expectant grandmother.


I just thought about this some more. If you are in a split, with a new queen and some honey, but not much pollen, you will be doing what you can to ensure your future success. So the thing to pack in would be pollen, then when the queen gets laying, you have baby food already. :blush:

Doesn’t mean she is laying, it just means that they know they have honey, so maybe they should focus on pollen for a bit. My Italians always bring in too much pollen, but that is because they love having lots of babies. They seem to know that I will supply the sugar… :smile:

I hived a swarm on Thursday the 19th October. I checked it Thursday the 26th for eggs but found none so, I gave them a frame with eggs and larvae. Yesterday I checked them and saw play cups which I thought looked empty. Today I also see the same ordinary looking play cups, some of which are empty and some of which with further closer inspection, have larvae in them, floating in royal jelly. I am surprised that they have not built the cups bigger, but is must take them a few more days to start elongating and enlarging them?

Dawn, you witch. You just read my thoughts.

Unfortunately I have zilch experience with swarms. But it sounds like your queens are in process. Congrats.

The swarm queen must have died I suppose. I don’t think any young queen made it in the main split hive either unfortunately. Gusty weather might have done for them on mating flights… Take 2… I’ll choose just one emergency queen cell to keep this time.

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14 queen cells hatched, and not one queen made it back alive to lay. I wonder if they ever stab each other to death at the same time?