Virgin Queen Bee Recognition

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House Bee
Mar 25, 2009
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Three weeks ago I have housed a swarm from my original hive. However, there has been no egg laying to date, but there is drawn comb. As the bees are quite docile, I suspect they do have an unmated queen.

The problem is seeing her! Does anyone have any tips for finding a virgin queen bee? I have looked and looked but cannot find her and I do need to as I wish to introduce a new mated queen in her place, which is of known good stock.
Very difficult task to find a virgin in a big colony.

Look for her rear end. She is much pointier than the others. Her thorax is also a bit higher and wider, but that is not so easy to see. Sometimes before she is mated she is no longer than a worker bee.

You could try the forcing all the bees through a queen excluder trick, but that is drastic and upsets them, so you would want to be sure that you really want to find her.
see my lastest video for a tool that will help with queen spoting, the other option is to get two brood boxes, bottom original one has old set up.
now go to hive and remove brood box place there instead new brood box with a few frames from the old one ie one or two food and brood completly free of all bees insert your new queen add your queen excluder and then the old box with the old unmated queen as the bees fly in and out they will get used to the new queen and as every thing hatches out up stairs the old queen should become easier to find and down stairs should carry on as normal.
I had the same problem this spring,I took an empty Nuc box with me.

The plan was to open the hive and look for the queen,nothing else !

Take the first frame and replace the cover board to stop the guards disturbing you,go through the frame and if not found put the frame into the nuc box and replace the lid.

Remove the cover board take next frame replace crown board and so on.

Even if you dont find her within 5-6 frames you now have two seperate boxes to check back through instead of one.

As for finding her, if she is a virgin she will be acting more like a worker than a queen speed wise,yet the workers around her will stop and face her like a mated queen,I look for browner legs and a more pointy rear end,dont look for a normal length queen but a pointy worker.

It may take you 2 or 3 attempts over a week,just dont put pressure on yourself,just say "If I find her I find her,if not so what".
Thank you everyone, I shall follow your advise concerning queen recognition and shall try Admin's idea of put the frames in another box after inspection. Then if I keep failing to see her after a day or so, I shall use the method suggested by Hedgerow Pete, although I am concerned about a virgin queen being able to slip through a queen excluder.

I cannot wait too long as the new queen has been in the package for a couple of days already, as she was sent over from Greece.
A virgin Queen should not be able to go through an excluder, thorax will not allow them to,unless of course it was a complete runt,scrub Queen,unlikely,but in saying this i have had mated Queens that have performed well,and been able to get through an excluder,but not for long.
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If you devide the hive in two parts, the queenless part will be nervous in two hours.
Good tips thanks. I still haven't found the stale virgin I am looking for. I really regret not killing her when I had her before my eyes last weekend. I really wound them up today looking.
Interesting tip Finman, I shall try that next time! Thanks.

As for today, I moved the hive to about five metres and placed a brood box with empty frames in its place with the new queen package on the centre frame. Then I spent a long time trying to find the queen in the hive that I moved. Some frames had drawn comb, nectar, and some honey / pollen, but no eggs. There was no sign of a queen and no sound either, she did not make any pipping sound that they make when distressed. May be the hive is queenless? But, the bees are quite calm, so I do not think so.

I followed Hedgerow Pete's advice and placed a queen excluder on the new brood box and then placed the old brood box on top. I noticed while doing this that there was already a cluster of bees around the new queen package, just hop she will be OK! I shall take a look tomorrow morning ...
Just like to thanks everyone for their help with my question. The good news is the new queen was out on one of the frames when I inspected last Thursday and virtually all the bees were down in the brood box with her, I rechecked the old brood box for a virgin queen, but there was just no sign, just lots of frustrated drones and some house bees. Put the hive back together with the queen excluder on top of the brood box and then an empty super on top.

Rechecked again yesterday and she was OK. So, I guess the hive has been without a queen for over like two weeks!

Really great to see HM on the frame :cheers2:

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