Have you ever had to wait a really long time for the queen to emerge? and then wait even longer for her to reproduce? The waiting game is REAL. What takes her so long?
a few days = to mature her wings, glands, expand and dry
a few days = to fly and mate
a few days = to settle down and start laying eggs
TOTAL = 2 to 3 weeks!
Timeline for big/original hive
May 18 – I took out the black queen to make a split because I saw numerous queen cups and the hive was getting too big for one queen.
June 4 – At the point, the bees have created numerous queen cells. This is nature’s way of creating an insurance policy. The first virgin queen to emerge will kill the unhatched queen cells. If two virgin queens emerge at the same time, there will be a fight to the death or one may swarm. Today is the estimated time of arrival for a new queen.
June 7 – I see 5 hatched queen cells but still no queen and no eggs. Mind you, the hive is 4 supers high, so I may have missed the virgin queen.
June 16 – Still nothing. I decide to downsize because at this point the hive has been queenless since May 18. That’s 29 days! It is also broodless at this point. Yes, beesness carries on as usual and it’s remarkable. An organization without a boss yet with hundreds of workers that work around the clock to keep it running, is something humans haven’t quite figured out yet because there is always that one person with a tendency to laziness.
June 22 – I feel discouraged. It’s been 35 days and I have not seen a queen or eggs…until today!!!! Oh yea, I just won the jackpot! I almost gave up on this hive. As I start seeing eggs, I’m expecting to see multiple eggs in one cell but to my surprise there is none of that funny beesness. And then I see her. A beautiful brown queen, distinct with two black dots.
Super stoked! Especially since this is our biggest hive and it would have been sad to lose it. In the coming weeks, their challenge will be a reduced number of worker bees as the current ones die off (they only live 6 weeks) so I will most likely refrain from checking too much to curb their stress.