Honey bee queens

Categories: All about bees, Bee hive keeping, Bee species, How to keep bees |

Here we have some FAQ about bees and especially about honey bee queens:

Honey bee queens - queen breeding (2)


How to distinguish the queen from the worker bees by their appearance?

Queen is larger than worker bee. Its body length is 20 – 25 mm(0.98”), the working bee – 12-14 mm(0.55”). The queen has a big rounded on the sides, gradually tapering abdomen, uniform color and large breast. Wings cover the abdomen in half, while the working bee has wings, covering it completely. The feet of the queen can not be used for collecting of pollen.

Can bees carry the eggs or larvae from one part of the hive to another?

To answer this question, experiments were conducted in France. Researchers concluded that bees can carry the eggs and young larvae to breed queens within its hive.

 Why do dead bees stick theirs’ tongues? What causes bees’ death?

Dying, all the bees throw tongue.

Last year a brood of all ages was into the slots until the end of September, and this year in August, there was no open brood. Does it mean that the bees are predicting the approach of winter?

Bees do not predict the weather, although some beekeepers are convinced of the contrary. But the life and behavior of bees is inextricably linked to environmental conditions, the weather and the condition of the family itself (the presence of food, the strength of family, etc.).

Late honey harvest and warm weather (when sufficient supply of honey in the hive) stimulate the queen late oviposition, and vice versa – the cold, rainy weather and the lack of nectar brings cutting of laying eggs.

Which arrangement of cells in the honeycomb is best for bees: angles up, down, or sideways?

Experiments have shown that bees can live a normal life and grow the brood combs with cells facing angles to the sides. But bees build cells angles up and down, which is considered to be the norm. On this basis, wax is made angles up and down.

How many years does queen live?

In the bee families, living in the wild, the life expectancy of the queen reaches 6-8 years, but the most intense they lay their eggs in the first 2 years. In the third year of life fertility decreases, so in practical beekeeping they change them after full 2 years to young females. Bad queens are changed before.

Does the weight of the queen influences on her fertility and productivity of the family?

Fertility of the queen depends on the origin and heredity. With all things being equal, larger queens are  more fecund than small ones. There is a direct connection between the weight of the queen, the number of tubes of egg in the ovary, the number of brood and productiveness of the  family. Queen with well-developed ovaries is large.

Does the mass of queen change in its lifetime?

Honey bee queens - queen breeding (1)

Weight of females vacillates and is dependent on a number of factors (intensity of oviposition, breeding conditions, etc.). During courtship flights, and during the swarming the mass loss of the queen is a biological necessity. The most noticeable decrease in the mass of females is after 6 days after the selection of the queen of the nucleus or its output from the queen cell, during this period the fetal queen loses more than 20 mg, and barren – 15 mg.

Why queen, which emerged from еру queen cells first, bites all the other queens’ cells?

The first queen, just coming out of the cell, is excited because it hears the original sounds of its sisters sitting in the liquor.These sounds are a signal to the upcoming release, and consequently, to fight each other. By the instinct of self-preservation queen tends to destroy their opponents. It gnaws a cell through the hole on the side and stings the queen, killing her. If the swarming instinct fades, the worker bees help the queen to destroy the rest.

What queen cells give the biggest queens?

Queen cells with the height of 2.2 cm (0.86”)  give large queen weighing more than 200 mg. These queen cells are in a quiet shift and swarming. The cell of 2 cm (0.8”) gives satisfactory quality of the queen, 180-200 mg, and 1.6 cm (0.6”) tall queen cells develop small queen.

Is there a difference in the milk, which bees feed the larvae of queen bees and drones?

Bees feed the larvae of queens, drones and bees with milk of different chemical composition. But even the milk intended for feeding to the same individual, is not the same in composition. The milk for 1-2-day-old larvae of worker bees contains a lot of protein (up to 70% of dry weight) and is the comparatively low in carbohydrates and fats. In the diet of 3-5-day-old larvae the protein content is reduced by almost half, but the sugar content greatly increases. In jelly for young queen larvae less protein (45-55%) is contained. But this number is almost maintained throughout all life of larvae. Jelly for drone larvae contains 60% of protein. It decreases with age to 35%. There is also a difference in the amount of fats, minerals, vitamins and other substances.

Do young queens eat the rest of their food in the cell?

According to the Hungarian scientist Orosha, the queens do not eat up the remains of royal jelly after they are released.They can withstand without food about 17 hours after the release. Practice proves that the queen, out-of queen cells in which there is no food left, is benign, although smaller in mass.

Why same eggs give different individuals?

Queen and worker bees are derived from fertilized eggs, but in contrast to the working bee queen gets royal jelly for entire larval period, and milk plays an important role in the formation of the anatomical and physiological functioning of the queen.

Why does the queen lays eggs of different sizes?

Found that more eggs the queen lays, smaller they are. Thus, in the high season (June), egg weight is 0.133 mg, 0.141 mg in July and in August 0.163 mg. Young queen lay eggs with more weight than older ones.

How many eggs the queen lays a day?

Honey bee queens - queen breeding

The number of eggs laid by the same queen varies considerably: in early spring queen lays up to 100 eggs a day, after a spring cleaning flyby and receipt of pollen in the hive – to 1000, at the height of the active season – to 2000, with the onset of the main honey flow oviposition begins to decrease and in the fall – stops.

High quality queen lays 2,000 eggs per day. Mass of eggs laid per day, may exceed the mass of the queen. During the year the queen lays an average of 150 – 160 thousand eggs.

What is the mechanism of laying of fertilized and unfertilized eggs by the queen?

The process of laying of fertilized and unfertilized eggs is regulated by a function of the pump seed of a queen. Under the influence of nerve impulses arising in the sensory hairs of the abdomen when lowering it into a narrow cell of bee, seed pump reduces and a drop of sperm drops onto the egg. When laying eggs in a larger drone cell, sensitive hairs do not have compression and pulse does not occur, so no drop of sperm on the egg and it gets out  unfertilized. It is no accident that bees build  narrow swarms bowls first (for a fertilized egg-laying period), and then (after the larvae) significantly expand them.

What is the selectivity of fertilization?

One egg gets a drop of sperm, numbering from 3 to 12 spermatozoa. Just enough for fertilization is one sperm. The mechanism of penetration of the sperm into the egg is very complex. Shettler (1960) showed that the egg due to the presence of as yet unknown mechanism is able to perceive the most active sperm that determines the selectivity of fertilization.

What contributes to a high temp of egg production?

An adequate number of cells produced for egg, contributes to a high rate of egg production. In this case, the queen lays her eggs in a row. Laying 540 eggs aday, queen travels up to 86 meters. At a time when most of the family is full with the brood, honey and bee bread, the queen has a day to cover the distance of 200-250 m to find free cells. In these transitions queen loses up to 600 eggs a day, laid out of cells.

After what time, the young queen who started laying eggs can develop high egg productivity?

In a good strong family – 10-14 days after the onset of laying, in the weak families – even later.

What conditions affect the egg production of the queen?

Honey bee queens - queen breeding (4)

It is necessary to have in the nest for at least 8-10 kg of honey and 2 – 3 kg of pollen in the spring, a sufficient amount of free space, dayly collectiong of fresh pollen and nectar, a large number of bees to prepare honeycomb cells to lay eggs , the optimal temperature in the nest.

Does the presence of queen in a nest influence on honey collection?

Many years of research has shown that the absence of fetal females in families during the main honey flow reduces honey collection by an average of 41.5%. Replacing fetal queen to mature queen cells accelerates return to normal work. Bees without a queen work with a reduced intensity for 27 days, and with the replacement of queen-mature – 18 days.

At the age quality of the queens also affect the productivity of honey. Families with 1-year-old queens extracted honey at 42.9%, and a two-year by 20% compared with the three-year queens.

Does queen need “suite”?

In the laying period queen is constantly surrounded by 8-12 working bees, which are called escort. They feed the queen with milk, which is produced by pharyngeal glands. After laying 25-30 eggs queen stops and starts eating. When switching to another cell former escort breaks out and a new bees, sitting on a different cell, escort a queen. They care for the queen bee and clean up after her.

Is the suite of the queen in the winter?

Most researchers tend to believe that with the cessation of egg-laying bees cease to feed a queen and suite splits. However, N. Foti (1957) during the wintering of females outside the family observed feed contacts between the queen and the bees. So, for 27 minutes there were 7 feed contacts, during which the queen was feed by 16.9 mg of food, an average of 2.4 mg for each contact.

Which food do bees feed the queen during the winter?

Bees feed the queen with vomitted honey, or milk secreted by pharyngeal glands. Pharyngeal glands of bees, lived with the queen outside of bee family, were in the fourth and final stage of development, and were capable of secreting milk.

It is interesting to quote R. Schoenfeld (1899): “Everyone knows that the queen never eats pollen, which delivers the required amount of protein to a bee, in that we do not have a moment’s doubt, because queens lack the lower head salivary gland, by secretion of that pollen should be wetted to turn into Pergamum and to become digestible, in whatever time we may want to examine the esophagus of a queen, we never find any pollen, or even its shell”.  But then it is appropriate to raise the question: if the suite breaks down in the winter, and queen does not eat ambrosia by itself, from where it receives protein feed throughout the winter, without which, as pointed out by P. Schoenfeld, drones die on the third or fourth day?

When the queen flies to mate?

Queen flies first to mate on the 10-12th day from the output from the cell and the begins egg-laying in an average of 14 days after its release. Mass flight of females to mate is observed at a temperature of air is below 25 ° C (77 F) and relative humidity – 60-80%.

At a temperature below 19 °C (66 F), as during a strong wind, mating does not occur. Most often queen pairs between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Queens mate in the same places, flying a distance of no more than 1.5-2 km from the apiary.

How many times does the queen flies off to mate?

Until recently it was believed that the queen flies to mate one time and pairs with a drone. Later it was found that 50% of females emerge to mate 2-3 times. During each flight, the queen mates with 6-10 drones.

The queen, returning from the mating flight, on the end of the abdomen has a white ball – “loop”, which closes the sting out of the queen.

Why does the queen mates with several drones?

It would seem, it is important to increase the supply of sperm of ruptured queen. But thre is no this increase. After mating with 7-10 drones there is only 6-8 million sperm  in the spermatheca of the queen, which would have been only one drone, giving up to 11 million sperm. Obviously, the value of polyandry is something else.

Studying the process of egg mortality, D.V. Shaskolsky (1978) established the relationship between the number of drones involved in the pairing with the queen, and the number of lethal eggs. Thus, the pairing of the queen with a drone in the family can be up to 50% dead eggs, and the pairing with eight drones – 6-12% these eggs. Viability of colonies increases, therefore, polyandry of queens – the phenomenon is not accidental, but natural necessity. It was also found that in the spermatheca of the queen and sperm are mixed,  simultaneously  sperm of different drones fall on an egg.

 Can the queen mate in mid-September and go into winter without starting to lay eggs?

Sunny weather with temperature at least 23 ° C (73 F) is required for mating. While in September for a few days daytime temperature remaines at that level, the queen can mate and begins to lay eggs only in the spring. Such cases happen.

The queen laid eggs after 35 days out from the cell. Why textbooks write that the queen must be replaced if it is not paired in a month?

Most often the queen begins to mate and lay eggs on the 12-18th day after the release of the cell. However, in some cases, especially in the early spring or late autumn, the mating of queens delays up to a month or more. The main reasons may be adverse weather conditions or lack of development of the queen itself.

As a rule, late mated queen has no good quality. Thus, there is a recommendation to replace these queens.

In early September, the queen is still laying eggs. Brood is much, and space to lay – a little. In late September, there is no brood, and no queen in the hive. Can the queen give up her family and fly, if it has no place to lay eggs?

No. can not. Queen ceased oviposition or died.

What should be done to the queen does not lay eggs in the supers designed for honey?

First of all, you need to have a cell, thickened to 32-34 mm (1.25”). In deep cell bees put honey, the queen does not lay eggs, because it does not reach the bottom.

To get fat cells, put first 12 frames into a 12-loop extensions, then when the bees have built up cells, two frames are removed, and the remaining 10 are pushed the extension in uniform. Bees will elongate the walls of the cells.

Can a barren queen lay eggs, and then be inseminated?

Barren queen begins to lay drone eggs only after losing the ability to mate. This occurs at the age of three to four weeks.

Why queen, laying spring fertilized egg suddenly becomes drone?

Queen may become drone because of disease, injury, or due to drying out of sperm in the spermatheca. These females need to be replaced by young or you should give to the family mature queen cells.

During setting up of empty combs in the hive a queen flew away. Will it go back to the hive?

Fetal queens rarely fly at dismantling the nest, especially during the peak of egg-laying, when it is heavy. Barren queens usually fly away.

Queen, departing from the hive without bees, usually returns. Seeing the queen flying off, beekeeper should stay in place, without closing the hive. Queen, making indicative flight, remembers the figure of the beekeeper as a guide. This focus helps the queen to return to its hive.

What is – auto-change of queens? Which queen cells bees make then?

Auto-change, or “quiet change of queens,” is when the bees grow young in the presence of fetal queen. After mating, the young one remains in the hive, and the old disappears. Such change is typical for gray mountain Caucasian breed. Bees rebuilt queen cells on the edges of combs, and in this sense, queen cells are like swarms. Queen are high quality. Auto-change is caused by a defect of an old queen.

When the queen dies during a quiet change?

Honey bee queens - queen breeding (3)

Old queen disappears after young is inseminated and begins to lay eggs.

How long and in what conditions you can keep queens in transit cells without the risk that they die or lose their quality?

You should create the best conditions: a dark place at a temperature of 16-20 ° C (60-70 F). It must be inspected daily and you should add liquid honey.

If all the bees in the cell are alive – the queen can be keeped up to 8-10 days, and if a part of the bees died – the queen must be put in a family.

When postage queen is in the box for 5-7 days. Does it affect its egg-laying productivity?

Research has established that the taken from family egg-laying queen relinquishes all eggs in the oviducts and the final sections of egg tubes for 12 hours. At a temperature of 34-35 ° C (93 F)  the queen loses  up to 100 eggs in 12 hours. ovaries queen release slowly from embryos of eggs (up to 7 days) depending on the feeding and the temperature in the cell.

When postage queen loses all the ready eggs. But in the hive the ovaries recover quickly if it stayed in the box not more than 8 days. Egg production, especially of young females, is not different from the egg production of queens that did not experience transfer.

Stay in the cells more than 10-15 days adversely affect subsequent work.

What food is best for sending queens in the cells?

According to L. Cook. V.Y. Burov (1960), the fetal queens, contained with two dozen bees in transit on honey cells survived for 33 days, and on the honey-sugar dough – 26 days.

In beekeeping literature is reported cohabiting of several queens with the cut stings. Such queen can not sting each other. Were such experiments conducted at research institutions?

Yes, it was found that the queen has an undercut sting mates and begins to lay eggs at the same time as the control one.

In a family two fetal queen laid eggs in one cell, not paying attention to each other. What is the explanation?

Cohabitation of two fetal queens in one family – a rare phenomenon. Most often it occurs in families of gray mountain Caucasian bees and their hybrids. Conditions of the peaceful cohabitation of two females in the same family are not well understood. Spring instinct intensifies hostility and one of them, sometimes both, die. You must remove one of them in the fall.


Share Button

Honey bee queens

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *