Ideal Queen Bee Mating Conditions
Queen honeybees mate outside the hive in the open while flying, usually in the afternoon. The mating takes place over the course of several consecutive days. Mated queen bees typically mate with approximately 10 to 20 drones over the course of their mating flights. Once the queen bee has mated she will never leave the colony again (unless the colony swarms and she leaves with the swarm.)
Because queen bee mating takes place outside in the open, the weather conditions are critical. What makes for the best for ideal mating?
- Temperatures of at least 69º Fahrenheit (but not exceeding 104º)
- Not too much wind
- No rain
- Drones nearby, usually within a mile, so that the queen bee can find drone congregation areas
Poor weather will delay a queen’s mating, and delay her ability to start laying eggs. If a virgin queen is confined to her hive for over three weeks due to adverse weather, or if she is unsuccessful in her mating efforts during this time, she eventually will begin to lay eggs anyway. In this case, however, she will only have unfertilized eggs to lay, and will be a considered “drone layer.”