How long does my Queen have to mate?

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New Bee
May 2, 2010
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I had a swarm on that lovely warm weekend at the end of April.......before you tell me what a wreckless bee keeper I have been and that I should have kept my bees under control, my defence is that i am a beginner and that my books say start swarm control measures from May.

Anyway, with help, I now have my existing hive and a nucleus ....both had a live queen and a queen cell.

Unfortunately, two weeks and two days later, there is no sign of any eggs or larvae.....can't see the queens either, although i always found that difficult even when i had a marked queen.

Have heard that "the young virgin queen has only a limited time to mate. If she is unable to fly for several days because of bad weather and remains unmated, she will become a "drone layer." Drone-laying queens usually mean the death of the colony......."

In view of the cold weather we have had, how much time do you think i have? Any ideas for a plan B, as i am not very optmistic at the moment.


You will have to wait a bit longer. Give it another week and maybe order a queen just incase.

If everything is ok you can use the queen to make up a nuc, then you have a backup or another hive.

I'm waiting for a queen to mate too.

Hope this helps.
Hi GaryBee,
By now she should have been in lay. I hate to bee the bearer of bad news mate but
Unfortunately, two weeks and two days later, there is no sign of any eggs or larvae.....can't see the queens either, although i always found that difficult even when i had a marked queen.
I think you need to bee looking at alternatives for getting a queen. You need a queen quickly so the workers don't start laying in cells.
Beekeeping great in it? Keeps us on our toes.
I'm sure I had one start laying 2.5 weeks after I got a swarm, but then I could be wrong.

I bow to your experience. :)
If they swarmed 16 days ago, presumably they did so when the queen cell was capped - therefore she would have emerged about 7-8 days later. As I understand it, there is a short time span for sexual maturity to occur ( seems to be around 4-5 days) and then mating flights around then. So at worst estimate you are only 5 days into the "should be getting mated period). Not sure how long the window of opportunity is, but I would have thought there is still a fair amount of hope.

(I'm in the same situation - got 5 queens that need to be mated.
i thought you had about 3 weeks from hatching, til her time is up.
Just another thing. dont be tempted in too soon, they may ball her! Then they are done for!
The earliest ours could have hatched is Monday, but they might be hatching now. Or is it "emerging"?!

So we're hoping for good weather by the week-end.
Yates study notes give her 37 days from graffting ( if I remember right, I've loaned my copy and not had it returned ! ) which would be 26 days from emerging before her vagina hardens and the mating 'window' closes . Its not often I'll find queens laying after only a fortnight here in west wales - three weeks is about right
Queen seen out about 4.30 from one of my hives: significant worker activity as well as drones - so perhaps despite cool weather, Mother Nature is getting on with things.

I wonder if rain is more effective in stopping nuptial flights than cool weather? We have had insignificant rain - just the (seemingly endless) cool weather.

Also workers in one of my mini nucs bringing in pollen. I know that does not necessarily mean brood rearing, but it lifts my spirits nonetheless. As advised here, I will be patient before looking..........
One of our association hives swarmed this morning at about 9:30. We managed to get most of the bees into a nuc box but it was cold and the bees started to form small clumps. Got about 90% of them and they were fanning by the entrance so fingers crossed.

I waited nearly a month for a queen to start laying last season so there is hope
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Hooper sets the upper limit after emergence as between 3 weeks and one month.

John Wilkinson
I have seen them take a month so them what panic and buy queens in after two weeks are being more than a little hasty.

this is getting a bit boring but.....

Patience please