A new Queen

Queen with whire dot on thorax

Queen with white dot on thorax

Just had the last session of an intermediate course in beekeeping this afternoon.  We marked drones and clipped their wings to get some practice for doing the same with queens.

My bees made it through the Winter – with the help of feeding. The queen was doing her stuff and by mid May the hive was looking quite healthy with quite a lot of brood, pollen and nectar. You can see the marked queen on the right.

However, when we inspected the hive at the beginning of June there were loads of drone cells and quite a few drones. On 3rd June we found three queen cells and no sign of the queen. Closed the hive and waited!
On the 14th and 15th June I heard a new queen ‘piping’ and managed to record it on my phone.

New queen bee on hive roof

New queen bee sitting on the hive roof.

This strange sound alerts workers and any other queens not yet emerged that there is a new queen in the hive. On 17th June I was lucky enough to spot the new queen sitting on top of the hive. She was easy to spot with her spidery legs, slender waist and long abdomen. She did a couple of short flights around the hive and returned to the same spot. The other bees showed no interest in her.

I’m hoping that she has now mated successfully but I’ll leave the hive undisturbed for a while and check for eggs in a week or so.

Workers and drone

Workers and drone

There have been a lot of drones hanging around the hive and the workers have been behaving oddly – sitting about in small groups. You can see a small group of workers here and a single, much larger drone on the left.

I’m hoping that the new queen has seen off the competition and that the bees won’t swarm.

Will keep you posted!

5 comments on “A new Queen

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Your queen bee’s abdomen is quite small – she must have been a virgin when you photographed her? Thanks for the recording of the queen’s piping, it’s not often I’ve heard it.

  2. Yes, I think she had just come out for an exploratory fly around. It’s 6 days since I saw her and the bees seem to be behaving normally now. I saw a lot of pollen going in yesterday. I assume these are good signs?

    • Emily Heath says:

      Yep, lots of pollen going in is a very good sign as it usually means brood is being reared. The young adult bees need to eat pollen to develop their hypopharyngeal glands and produce brood food, and also some pollen gets mixed in with brood food and fed to older larvae.

  3. Thanks for reassurance Emily. Very tempting to open the hive and take a look but I know I must just leave them undisturbed for a while.

  4. alderandash says:

    Thanks so much for this- really useful, particularly with the lovely photos (and sound!) as well.

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