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Would a queen ever leave or abandon a hive (on her own)?

New beekeeper, first hive, probably impatient.

I bought a NUC with (a young) queen in cage. Transferred NUC to new hive, 5+ days later queen still in cage. I manually released queen and when I did, she flew up into the air. I lost sight of her Bahahahaha…

Is she coming back?

I Manually released because I believe there was no signs of aggressive bees clinging to her.

It’s been raining here the last 2 days and I have not pulled out frames to search. Bees are still in box, I have peeked :slight_smile:

I think i got a bad deal, not many bees compared to other peoples images.

Will the queen return? Do i need to worry?


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Welcome to the Flow forum.

I lost a queen last year under similar circumstances. I would check in a week or so. If you see eggs and open larvae, she came back. If you see queen cells or no eggs/larvae, you need to look into getting a new queen, or a frame of eggs/brood from a local beekeeper. :blush:

My queen did not come back. I had to buy another one. :cry:

Hey Thorpie… I really like your photo!

Can’t Thorpie let them make a new queen instead of buying one? Just asking out of curiosity, not challenging your advice of course Dawn, for goodness sake. There might be a long waiting list for new queens (at least there is on this side of the continent).

Absolutely! It just depends on how much time is left in your season. If it is short, you might want a mated queen ASAP. If it is long, you can just wait. :wink:

One other thought though, if the queen has been caged for 5+ days, there may not be any brood young enough to make a new queen. In that case you definitely need a frame of young brood/eggs or a new mated queen STAT(-ish). :blush: For that reason, I usually check that queens have been released after 2 days. If not, I release manually.


Welcome to the forum where you will find heaps of reading and helpful folks with advice.
Sadly there is next to no chance on her finding her way back into the hive.
If there is still really young brood in the frames, but there shouldn’t be if your times are right. then there is every chance on the colony making a new queen this early in Summer, after all it is only the first day of Summer.
Your other option is to buy a queen and introduce her to the colony.
Your definitely not the first to loose a queen that way.:unamused:


Thank you for responding. I really appreciate all the advice.

Great looking garden very jealous over here in the UK.

Hope your queen comes back.


do you know if your Nuc had brood in it? I ask because I am wondering why the queen came caged. A nuc should come with frames covered in brood in all stages- eggs, larvae and capped. If that’s how it was then theoretically the bees should be able to make a new queen- but as dawn said- if the caged queen was in the hive- and the bees thought they had a queen over those 5 days- then it is possible that now there are no eggs or larvae young enough for the bees to make a new queen from. If you have brood then the numbers of bees in the colony will be OK for a while- as all of those young bees emerge.

If however- you had a nuc with bees, a caged queen- and empty frames- then your colony may be in immediate danger, and will need a new queen ASAP. Either a formed queen or a frame of brood with eggs and the smallest larvae on it. Because your bees have a limited lifespan- the numbers of bees in the hive will steadily decline. The less bees there are the harder for them to successfully make a new queen.


Hey Jack and @Thorpie I am beginning to wonder if it was a package of bees bought and not a nuc? I’ve never heard of a nuc having a caged queen in it. It all sound rather odd to me.


Instructions for next time:

Sometimes she flies because she’s just panicked. Sometimes she flies because there is another queen loose in the package and they haven’t accepted her.


Thank you. Really appreciate the info why a queen would fly away.

In all the YouTube nuc installation I have seen, the Queen does not fly away at the end. Was not prepared for that. I just smiled and appreciated the moment watching the Queen fly.

Just viewed your link. I wish I had seen this before the event!!

I stood there for 5 mins hoping for a return. Than I closed the lid thinking she might enter the front door.

Anyway… Next time i will be wiser :slight_smile:

Really appreciate the response. Thank you.

Wednesday I will inspect for eggs/larvae/Queen. If there is no larvae, Queen or Queen cell I will contact the supplier for a new queen. If Queen not available i will obtain a single brood frame (with eggs/larvae).

I need to fix my situation. Thank you so much for all your advice.

Yes it was a purchased NUC (not a package). 5 Frames. It was a long drive for collection, and the hive smelt like dirty feet with sugar on top.

The gentleman I purchased the NUC from said the queen was 2 weeks old and gave me a strange look. (I was just thinking long live the queen). Because of this he decided to placed her in a cage. He said she should stay in there for 5 days.

When installing, I did not inspect closely, I left my gloves at home and did not spend too much time holding the frames. Now I wish I spent more time.

The Queen cage was pressed into the comb at the bottom of a frame but I moved it to the top between two frames sideways, just like in the tutorials :slight_smile:

I am disappointed about the next stage. Was I impatient to release the queen? I observed the behavior, and thought I assess correctly that the bees were not aggressively interacting with the queen and it was ok to release.

I don’t think you did anything wrong. Michael’s tips are extremely helpful, but they won’t always work. My queen flew 50 feet and lodged herself behind a “bird stop” end in a Spanish tile roof. How do I know? Because hundreds of workers were flying to her location for 2 days afterwards. We tried to lure her and the nurse bees out of the roof space, using a frame of brood in a nucleus box balanced on the gutter. She wasn’t interested.

I think you were given bad advice by the beekeeper who sold you the nucleus. Five days is really too long. Two days is usually plenty, especially if the queen was in the nucleus before the transport event. I blame him, and I would ask him for a replacement. If he is honorable, it would be free.

Anyhow, hopefully all of this is moot, and she found her way back in your case. :crossed_fingers:

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If you have no luck with that colony or supplier you can message me as I have a few nice little Nucs available here in adelaide.


@Semaphore amazing, thank you Jack.

Someone local (2 min drive from me lol) is going to bring a single frame.

Really should have knock on his door when purchasing the Nuc instead of traveling 4 hours to a bee sanctuary in search of the special bee with the special genetics. :joy:

Inspected today. No sign of the queen, nor larvae. Just honey and pollen. But I think I’m going to win. I was a bit worried about losing them. What a terrible start that would be. Still sad I loss the queen thou.

This forum is a great community. First time posting on a forum. Normally just try and work things out on my own.

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When introducing a caged, shipped queen to an existing colony I always do a candy release. When introducing the queen that came in a package I almost always direct release. Some of the reasons she might fly when doing a direct release to her package is that there is a virgin or other queen loose in the package or that you got her panicked by shaking bees off of the cage or otherwise jostling her. I usually pop the cork (or the lid on a JZBZ cage) and hold my finger over the hole while I set the cage on the bottom board in the middle of the bees… This usually works great as she just wanders out into the bees down at the bottom. if you try to get her out of the cage she is much more likely to try to fly and if you recently shook her to get off the adhering bees and you’re trying to get her out of the cage she will most likely fly.


It’s happened to all of us Thorpie at one time or another.

The accepted commercial practice in this part of the world is 4 days in a cage after introduction…and that’s after leaving the nuc queenless for an hour…they will be crying for a queen…you can actually hear their discontent. The crying dissappears within 5 minutes after you have installed the caged queen. I’ve done thousands of releases this way and now queens are so darn expensive in Canada ($50) that I pack a clear piece of plastic with me to cover the nuc when I pull the screen off the cage…just inserting my arms under the plastic and completing the manipulation. I don’t think the advice from your nuc supplier was that far off…especially if it was five frames of brood and bees.

Using the candy plug in the cage (if it exists) works very well…but candy plugs can vary in texture often requiring a nail hole to be punched through the plug so the workers can more easily remove the remainder.

When it comes to packages…I get packages from New Zealand each spring…they have been in transit for more than three days and the queens are direct released when the packages are shook…and virgin queens in with the workers occur from time to time…this is a real problem when it happens as those queens never get mated.


This is great! Thank you. This is what I will do next time.

I see my mistake. I opened the charge incorrectly and causing her to panic. I lifted the mesh over the staple.

Thank you all for you support.

Just to bring closure (about the call to help), I will let you know when a new queen emerges and begins to lay eggs :grin:

All the best, thank you everyone.

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Very nice garden but it’s not mine. Belongs to a friend who lives next door to my family home. I live 1 hour south from the location.

I found the queen!!

She either returned, or I had two queens as one of the possibilities @Michael_Bush listed.

Thanks for the advice everyone! Hope you enjoyed the drama of this newbie beekeepper.

All the best.