How Many Days After Requeening Should I See Eggs?
Ask the Expert!
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Kathy Stevens asks:
I just requeened two colonies. Eight days later, I went in to see if the queens made it. I found the queen in one hive, but not in the other. I suspect this hive has been queenless for several weeks, as I have noted no eggs or brood during the last two inspections. There is plenty of nectar, honey, and bee bread. I pirated a frame with brood from the other hive into the queenless one, and checked for supersedure cells three days later. They made three of them on both sides. Not wanting to end up with another Africanized feral bee — the first hive being requeened is very defensive — I ordered new queens. Long story short, I need to know if I should look again before ordering another queen, and if so, how long should I wait? So far the population seems normal, but I know that won’t last without a laying queen. I would appreciate your advice.
Rusty Burlew replies:
After eight days, you should see eggs by now, even if it took the workers two or three days to release her. A queenless colony can go about 21 days before the workers’ ovaries begin to develop. So, 21 minus 8 is 13. So you have about 13 days max to get a queen accepted, or less if the colony was queenless for a long time before you installed the first queen. The timing is tricky because a lot of open brood will extend the amount of time you have before ovary development, but you can’t see backward.
On the other hand, if the colony already had some laying workers before you requeened, they may have killed her. So you need to decide whether she just died or if she was killed by laying workers. If you don’t see any eggs at all, you are probably still okay. Continue to supply eggs or open brood every few days until you can get a replacement queen. Alternatively, you can supply eggs and very young brood and see if they will raise a queen by themselves, but then you run the risk of unwanted, perhaps Africanized, genetics.
This is a difficult situation because if laying workers killed the first queen, they will kill the next one, too. When you put a new caged queen in there, watch how the bees react to her. They should be interested, and some should try to feed her, but if they bunch themselves all over the cage and act aggressively, it means they already have a queen or they have laying workers. Unfortunately, a layer worker colony is extremely difficult to handle, and many people don’t even bother.
Just a final thought: It might be easier to let them raise a queen by themselves from young brood. If they manage to do that, then you can replace that queen with a purchased queen in order to remove the unwanted genetics.