–from Barbara, Medford NJ

I live in southern New Jersey. Last August I acquired a Russian queen and hoped that the colony would collect enough honey to survive the winter. In October they only had 4 frames of honey stored, I assumed that they would not get through the winter, so I took the hive body in the house and placed a piece of Plexiglas over the top. I also gave them 1/4 of a global patty which they have been eating. I have a tube that runs from the hive body to the window which the bees use to make cleansing flights on nice days. Everything seems to be going well.

They are uncapping the honey to eat and they mostly just seem to hang on the frames. I plan on placing them outside in the spring. I did not check for a queen before I brought them inside and want to know if I have a queen. The frames are placed close together so I cannot see between them. I have not seen any eggs yet. Is this the only ways of telling if I have a queen? They seem calm and was wondering if they did not have a queen would they act unusual. Does anyone know how to check if a hive is queenless without opening the hive? Thank you, Barbara

One Response to “Is My Hive Queenless?”

  • Geoff Kipps-Bolton

    Hi Barbara

    I like the idea of setting your hive up inside with a Plexiglas cover. I’d really like to see a photo of the setup.

    Depending on the severity of the winter, it’s quite likely that the queen, if she has survived, will not have started to lay eggs yet, in preparation for the spring build up.

    In the middle of winter it’s quite difficult to tell whether a hive is queenless. As you say, it’s lot easier to look for fresh eggs rather than finding the queen, but of course you can’t open the hive up to see when it is so cold.

    I think the best thing to do is to watch them carefully on the days it’s warm enough to leave the hive, you may see bees returning with pollen on their legs. Although this isn’t a guarantee that there’s a queen, if you see pollen coming into the hive it often indicates that the colony has begun to raise brood and need fresh pollen to provide the rapidly developing larvae with protein.

    It’s quite surprising how early honey bees are able to start gathering pollen. Even if you don’t see it immediately I suggest you keep and eye on your local flora for flowers and keep watching the returning workers. I think it’s very likely you’ll see an indication before too long. Spring isn’t far away….. really!

    The Bee Guy

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