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How do you know if the queen is absent?

Sometimes it happens that the queen is absent in the hive. This can be a problem for the development of the colony, for the harvest and even sometimes for the survival of the colony. How to find out and what should be done?

Absence of the queen

The first sign of the queen's absence is not to see her. However, this is not an obvious sign because the queen is not always easy to find, especially when you are new to beekeeping. The young queens are fierce and some take a clever pleasure in hiding in heaps of bees or between the frame and the wax. We cannot therefore rely 100% on this element.

No eggs

The absence of eggs and even more so of larvae is a clear sign of the queen's absence. Either it was crushed, but most often swarming is involved.

The absence of eggs indicates that there has been no queen for at least three days. To determine if there has been swarming while the beekeeper was away, look at the brood frames and look for queen cells.

Without queen cells, the option of swarming should be ruled out. In this case, it will be necessary to proceed with the introduction of a new queen.

If you find queen cells, your best bet is to keep two or three together on the same side of the frame. This will make it easier for the queen to work at birth to eliminate other queens. Eliminate all queen cells except the ones you keep.

Queen cell

The presence of queen cells is not always a sign that the hive has swarmed. If you find eggs in the colony, there's a good chance the queen is still around and is close to swarming. In this case, eliminate all queen cells.

To avoid swarming, I advise you either to remove a few frames of brood and replace them with building waxes.

Nervous colony

When you open the hive, you will sometimes find that the colony is nervous and restless. In this case, you always have to ask yourself if the queen is present. This by its pheromones ensures the cohesion of the colony.

Brood test

If, despite all your research, you haven't been able to determine whether the queen is present or not, you have one option left: perform the brood test.

It consists in placing in a colony a frame of brood with very young larvae coming from another colony. Note the position of the frame, if necessary by marking it with a thumbtack. Come back to visit the hive three days later. If the colony raised royal cells on this frame, it is because the colony no longer had a queen. Otherwise, there is a queen present but you have not found it. Read the article on finding a queen and tagging her.