I Found a Dead Queen on My Landing Board. Now What?

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I Found a Dead Queen on My Landing Board. Now What?

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Bill from Washington writes:

Hi,  I live just outside of Seattle. Yesterday I found a queen dead on the landing board of my top bar hive. She was with two worker bees that were alive.  I am not sure what they were doing.  Pushing her off of the ledge?


Rusty Burlew replies:

It’s hard to know what is going on when you find a dead queen on a winter landing board. If you have multiple hives, I would recommend combining this colony with another, but it sounds like you may have just the one.

If this was the only queen in your hive, then I assume the colony won’t make it unless you can get a mated queen from somewhere. If you belong to a bee club, it’s possible that someone may be keeping some small nucs overwinter and would be willing to sell you one. Then you would need to introduce the queen and as many workers as possible into the top-bar hive.

The other possibility is that the dead queen was not the only queen in the hive. This occurs more frequently than people realize. It’s usually a case where you have a mother and daughter queen that co-exist in a colony, sometimes for months. At some point, however, the bees decide to offload mom and carry on with just the daughter.

A second queen would be a lucky break, but it’s not something I would gamble on if I had another choice. So by all means, ask around. Puget Sound Beekeepers Association would be a great place to start.

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