The magic of queen making

Can I tell you how excited I was to find queen cells in the 2nd nuc Peter and I made? SO thrilled. I couldn’t believe that the bees were doing exactly what all the books said they would do! It was just too cool. As far as I know, there aren’t many beekeepers around here. I know of one but I don’t know how far she is from me. So I’m waiting for this queen to hatch, harden, mate, mature her ovaries and then lay. I had no idea if it would actually work because you see, there is a flaw in the otherwise perfect (and I do mean perfect) organization and structure of a beehive. The first queen to emerge KILLS the remaining queens. BUT she is still a virgin. And get this, she (the ONLY surviving queen) has to then make MULTIPLE flights to mate with up to 20 drones. Now, you have to understand that queen bees don’t fly quite as fast as worker bees because they’re larger, usually MUCH larger. And there is nothing more that a bird would like than to eat a FAT bee.

Think of it: there are no more eggs, the queen is a virgin and she has killed all the other queens still in their cells. She is it. And if she doesn’t make it, the hive doesn’t make it. It’s very simple. So if she doesn’t come back, you can either end up with a laying worker hive (workers can only lay drones as they have no sperm with which to fertilize the eggs) or the workers just die out because there are no replacements.

So when I checked that nuc with the queen cells, I was hoping against hope that she was laying. That she made it back from her multiple flights unscathed. And so she did. Thank goodness. I can’t believe it worked. It is their only flaw, why can’t they have back-up queens??



  1. Every time I have a queen going for mating flights I get so nervous! Sometimes the first virgin to emerge doesn’t immediately kill the other queens, she decides to go off somewhere in a little cast swarm instead and leave one of her sisters to head the hive. So still not good for the beekeeper!

    • Thanks for reading Emily. I’ve been reading your blog and really enjoy learning the ins and outs of the inner workinds of a hive. I especially like learning about the different pheromones they use. As you can tell, I’m up to the Module 6 revising (reviewing as we say across the pond). I may read the rest of the modules to see what else I can learn. Anna

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