To Find a Queen Bee

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Wildflower Meadows Queen Rearing Process and Mating

To Find a Queen Bee

Finding a lone queen bee in a large booming beehive of possibly a hundred thousand bees can be a challenge of epic proportions.  Even in a small colony, the queen sometimes seems to be nowhere to be found.  The good news is that the vast majority of beekeeping does not require a direct search for a queen.  Most beekeepers learn to read the condition of a queen by focusing on her brood and its distribution, rather than by searching for the queen directly.

Occasionally however, when it is time to replace her, a queen bee needs to be found.   In our queen bee rearing yards we typically search for queens all day long.   After a while, our beekeepers quickly learn the essential tricks of the trade:

  • It is a time saver – in the long run – to immediately check the lid as soon as it is opened
  • It is best to first remove a side frame to clear space for handling the other frames
  • The percentage play is the middle of brood nest, so it is more efficient to work from the inside out
  • The less smoke the better, since smoke makes the bees (and the queen) scatter from the high probability zone
  • As a frame is being pulled, quickly scan the sides of the frames next to the one being removed; sometimes this is a quick find
  • It is best to start from the outside of the frame working to the center so the queen doesn’t sneak away from the scope of vision
  • The pros look for the shape of the queen rather than the mark
  • The distinctive pattern of a queen with workers surrounding her in a circle is an instant give-away, and is usually as easy to find as the queen herself
  • For large colonies with multiple stories, it is a time-saver to insert a queen excluder between the boxes four days before searching.  Four days later the queen will be isolated in the box that contains newly laid eggs