When Do You Need to Find the Queen?

Of the (hopefully by now) tens of thousands of honeybees in your hive, only one of them is super important. Fittingly, it’s the one called “the queen.”

We all understand how important she is, but is it important to see her every time you inspect the hive?


As you may have noticed by now, beekeepers have many contradictory opinions on most subjects, including this one. Thus, we’re sharing Dr. Dewey Caron’s wisdom on this issue. He led a discussion on the topic at our recent Field Day. When he posed the question "when do you need to find the queen?" it was remarkable how many different opinions there were.

According to Caron, there are really only “about” two times when you need to see the queen.

The first instance Caron suggested was in response to an audience answer of “when you want to see how pretty she is!”

“Right!” laughed Caron. He noted that when your uncle is in town and wanting to see the bees you’re so excited about, and you finally get him out to the hive, you should probably try and show him the most important bee in the hive. It’ll be important to him.

The second instance is when you’re requeening. You’ll need to take out the old queen (or queens, as there are often mother-daughter combinations ruling the hive this time of year).

“And that’s it,” affirmed Caron. As long as you’re seeing evidence of the queen when you’re inspecting the hive—like capped brood, open larval brood, eggs (one per cell, rarely two), developing queen cells, you’re likely good.

But we understand if you want to find her just to admire how pretty she is.

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