How to find the queen bee inside the beehive
Usually there is no need to look for the queen bee.
If you only wish to check whether your beehive has a queen, you should only look for the brood.
If there are all stages of worker brood - from the eggs to the capped brood - it means that your beehive has an active mated queen.
If you spot eggs which stand vertically in their comb cells – this means that the queen layed them that day.
But sometimes, it is still necessary to look for the queen.
The difference between the queen, the drone and the worker bee
In order to find the queen, you need to know what does she look like and to be able to differentiate her from workers and drones.
Worker bees are:
The smallest in the beehive
They are the most numerous
The drones are:
Bigger than the worker bees
They have exceptionally big eyes
They have strong wings which reach the end of their abdomen
They don't have a stinger, their abdomen is rounded at the end and hairy
The queen bee
The queen bee is:
The longest in the beehive
Her wings reach the half of her abdomen
Her back is shiny and hairless
She has long legs
It is much easier to find the queen if she is marked.
Some more photos
Where is the queen bee located
The queen is usually where her brood is.
Look for the queen in the brood boxes, in other words in those boxes where there are eggs and larvae.
If you have honey super, but you don't have queen excluder between the brood box and honey super, the queen may go up to the super and lay in the frames there. In that case, while looking for the queen, you should also search through those frames.
Most often, the queen will be on the frames with open brood and eggs. You should pay special attention to those frames while searching for the queen. However, this is not a rule, because she is constantly moving around and can also be found on other frames.
You should look for the queen bee only in boxes which have brood.
If you have two brood boxes, and one of them doesn't have a brood, it is unlikely that you will find a queen there, so it is unnecessary to look there.
If there is brood in both brood boxes, it is not important which box you are going to search first, but it is more likely that you will find a queen in the box where there is a younger brood and eggs. Usually there will be most of the worker bees as well.
While working with frames in brood boxes, be careful not to squash the queen.
Looking for the queen bee - steps
Beekeeping equipment and supplies you will need:
- Beekeeping suite
- Beekeeping gloves
- Beekeeping smoker
- Hive tool
Use the smoker only at the entrance and not over the frames. Queen can hide if there is too much smoke.
Finding the queen bee – step by step:
1Open the beehive so you have access to the brood box. Remove all the boxes without brood – honey supers and queen excleder if they are there.
2Find the queen bee.
1Take out the first frame from one end of the brood box. Carefully search it on both sides to see if the queen is on it. Usually the queen isn't on that frame, but it can happen occassinally.
2If the queen isn't there, lean that frame on the front side of the hive.
3Pick up the second frame and look for the queen there - check both sides of the frame.
4If you don't find the queen on that frame - put it back in the beehive, but next to the wall of the hive, on the place where the first frame stood (the one which was removed and leaned in front of the beehive). That way there will be some space between that frame and unsearched frames, and there will be smaller chance for the queen to walk from the unsearhed to the searched frame.
5Check every frame in the same manner, one at the time, until you find the queen. If the queen isn't on the frame, return the frame in the hive, not on its original position but next to the searched frames so there is always space between the unsearched and searched frames.
6Return all the frames where they stood. Don't forget the first one, leaned in front of the beehive.
3If you have two brood boxes, and you don't find the queen bee in the first brood box, do 2step one more time with the second brood box (and every other box that has brood in it until you find the queen bee).
4Put everything in its initial place and close the beehive.
If I can’t find my queen bee
The queen is always moving along the hive, surrounded with bees which can easily cover her. Or she can be at the bottom or on the inside wall of the beehive or even between the bars of the frame. This is why sometimes it is hard to find her.
If you can't find the queen, close the beehive, leave the colony to stabilize and try again in a few hours or the next day.
Keep in mind that keeping the beehive open for a long period may result with robbing, especially if there is no honey flow.
Finding the queen can be hard for beginner beekeepers. You should be patient. Even the experienced beekeepers sometimes have problem finding the queen because she may hide easily.
Before you start looking for her, make sure you are familiar with features and characteristics of the worker bees, drones and the queen. If you haven't seen a queen before, be sure to carefully look at photos.
If you see a bee and you are not sure if she is a queen or not, it's more likely that it isn't her. When you do see the queen, you will know, because she is quite different from all other bees.