How to tell if you have a Queen Bee
One of the things that people often ask is “How do I tell if I have a queen in my hive?”
Take a look at this brief video below before I go into more detail on how I check my hives.
Clues on checking for the queen bee.
– Fishing around within your hive of stingless bees and causing needless destruction is one way to be sure there is a queen. But there are some other gentle ways to check your colony. Let me share below.
-Structure of the hive
One of the first things to note if you’re unsure is the way that stingless bees build their structure within the hive. Loss of a queen will result in irregular structure being built. This is by far the fastest way “visually” to know if your hive is in trouble. This is something I have learned to read over time. Below are two pictures as an example.
When a hive suffers the loss of a queen eventually bees lose hope and their behaviour changes. Behaviour changes not only visibly but also in the way their nest looks. Resin and wax stops being maintained and therefore a change in colour occurs. Stringy structure starts to be built upwards, as if reaching up for help and bees walk slow in a depressed manner.
-Spent egg cells
Without opening a hive you can tell if bees have an active queen by watching to see if bees are carrying out spent egg cells. If you see a lot of these leaving, then your colony is fine.
-Loss of numbers of bees leaving the hive.
A good indicator you do not have a queen. This often happens post purchasing a new hive that has been freshly split. Bee numbers slowly decline over about 2-3 months until they stop altogether. As the bees age and no new bees are being born the hive slowly fades to nothing.
-Pests move in.
When a queen goes missing or dies, the bee’s numbers within the hive decline. When this happens always, always, always pests move in. The queen is the fuel for the motor and without her naturally you will get problems arising.
A new queen bee being made
Another thing that can happen in a small colony with no queen is the bees create their own queen through modifying a normal worker cell. They do this by maintaining the egg within this cell and extending the walls of the cell making it larger. This larger cell provides more food to the larva and it becomes a queen bee. For this reason I value fresh brood more then a queen cell. Bees in this situation often modify more than one cell (5-7 is not uncommon).
Here is a picture of this happening in one of my hives.
What to do if you have no queen bee?
Here are the two simplest options
1)Take some queen cells from another hive and add it to your hive
2)Take some new brood from another hive and add it to your hive