Beekeeping books all agree: Queenlessness is BAD. Terrible. Very very extra bad and problematic.
Beekeeping books also pretty much all say that if you have a hive that goes queenless, it:
- will be an angry, temperamental hive.
- will stop bringing in pollen because there are no babies to feed.
- will almost certainly develop laying workers within a couple of weeks.
Well, all the way back on March 26 I split Rosemary hive and created Sage. I was pretty sure (yeah, oops. I know,) that I left plenty of eggs in Sage hive for them to make a new queen from.
Apparently I didn’t, because when I went in to inspect a week later, there was no eggs and no open brood. No biggie – even if they had made themselves a new queen as expected, no chance that she would have been hatched, mated, and laying eggs that fast.
But today I looked again. It’s been a month. Sage hive has:
- the same calm, friendly, “if you don’t hurt us, we don’t care what you do” attitude they’ve always had.
- workers with full pollen baskets coming and going as normal, and lots of stored up pollen and nectar.
- absolutely NO BROOD at all. No eggs. No evidence of laying workers. Nothing at all but wax, nectar, honey, and pollen.
So much for how a queenless hive is “supposed” to act. Still, though, it is a problem. Without a queen the colony will be dead in a few weeks.
We went into Thyme hive, which we knew for a fact was queenright, took out a frame with brood and eggs in it, and gave it to Sage. Theoretically they will choose one of the eggs and make themselves a queen with that. If I can find a local queen for sale in the next few days, though, I will just introduce her and then I won’t have to worry so much about them developing laying workers. Or, y’know, just dying outright.
For the benefit of beekeepers who replace their queens every year or every two years, there is an international color code to designate what year the queen was born. For years ending in the digit zero or five, that color is blue. (If I had a marked queen that was born this year, her mark would be white to indicate that she is from a year ending in one or six.)