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How to find the Queen in a Bee Hive

How to find the Queen in a Bee Hive

Written by : honeytop

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Finding the queen bee in a beehive can be a bit of a challenge, but with some practice and these tips, you’ll be spotting her like a pro in no time!  See the video below for helpful example.

Appearance:

  • Size: The queen is slightly larger than worker bees, but not massively so.  Her torso is longer
  • Shape: Her key identifiers are her long, slender abdomen and short wings that only reach halfway down her body. Worker bees have a rounder abdomen and wings that nearly cover their whole body.
  • Color: Queens are can have a shade darker than worker bees, with a golden or reddish tinge on their abdomen. However, color alone isn’t reliable for identification, as it can vary between breeds.

Behavior:

  • Movement: Unlike the bustling worker bees, the queen moves with a slow, purposeful swagger, often leaving a clear path in her wake. Look for a bee that seems to command respect from the others.
  • Attendants: The queen is often surrounded by a small group of worker bees called attendants, who feed and groom her. This “queen retinue” can be another helpful clue.

Tips for a Smooth Search:

  • Timing: Choose a warm, sunny day when the bees are most active. Avoid windy or rainy days.
  • Minimize disruption: Smoke the hive just before opening it to calm the bees. Use calm, gentle movements while inspecting the frames.
  • Focus: Don’t try to scan every bee. Look for the distinct shape and movement of the queen.
  • Start narrow: Begin your search in the brood nest (the area with developing bees), as this is where the queen spends most of her time laying eggs.
  • Look carefully: Check not only the frames you pull out, but also the edges and undersides, as the queen can be sneaky!
  • Practice makes perfect: Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find her right away. The more you practice, the easier it will become.

Bonus tip: Some queens have colored markings (often dots) applied by beekeepers for easier identification. If you’re working with marked bees, this can make your search considerably quicker.

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