A queenless beehive is trouble for beekeepers. Especially, it’s a bit difficult to see whether the beehive is queenless, unless you’ve spotted the queen bee at least 100 times in your lifetime. However, the bees can give us some signs if they have lost their queen. Once you’ve recognised this, immediate action is needed, otherwise the colony may soon collapse.
Signs of a Queenless Beehive
Lack of brood and eggs
When the queen is gone, the first immediate sign is when there’s no brood and laid eggs. This is why the first thing you check for during inspections are the amount of brood and laid eggs as they are a sign of the queen bee. If the colony has been queenless, you may see the colony slowly shrink as there are no new bees being born.
Queen cells and cups
When the beehive recognises that they have lost their queen, they will create a new queen. Although, a queen cell or cup is not an immediate sign that the hive is queenless. However if this is combined with the lack of brood or eggs, then your hive might be queenless.
Temperament and population
Bees without a queen can get moody, aggressive and cranky. Additionally, since there is no new eggs being laid, the population will drastically shrink. If your hive used to be tame and docile, but recently changed its temperament, look for the queen immediately.
Without the queen, the worker bees can start laying eggs. Signs that a worker bee may be laying are multiple eggs in a cell, lack of worker brood and an increase in drone brood. This is due to the inability of the worker to fertilise eggs, allowing them to only lay drone brood.
What to do next
If you found that your hive has one or more of the following signs, act quickly and look for the queen bee. If you’re a beginner, it really helps when you’ve marked the queen! To solve the queenlessness of your hive, you can either let the hive create and raise their own new queen (if they’ve laid a queen cell already, that’s a good sign!). Your other option is to purchase a queen bee from a queen breeder.
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