Queen Right Bees

Queen right bees refer to bees in a hive where the queen’s functioning is normal and the colony is stable. This can also be termed a queen-right beehive. We will have a look at how to see if your hive is queenright.

Definition Of A Queenright Hive

Queenright or queen right colonies are hives with a properly mated, laying stable queen who is able to maintain a functional beehive. There seems to be some ambiguity in the way people write this term, but my understanding is that queenright, one word is the correct term.

How To Check If You Have Queenright Colonies

This is a relatively simple procedure. Open the hive and smoke the top bars gently. Listen to the noise the bees make. The reason it is important to listen is so that, if you ever find a hopelessly queenless hive, you can learn the sound.

The next step is to open the brood box and find a few brood combs with eggs in. Have a look at the egg-laying pattern.

Queenright Hive

If you can see a single egg at the bottom of each cell, then your hive is queen right.

Action: Life is good. Celebrate.

Queenright Hive

Learn more about: Can Worker Bees Lay Eggs?

Hopelessly Queenless Hive

If however, you see lots of eggs dotted all over at the bottom of the cell you have a hive that is not queenright. In this case, most of the eggs will be in drone cells.

Action: The hive is basically doomed. Destroy the hive and start again, or just let it fizzle out on its own.

Non-Laying Queen

If you find the hive has no eggs, and no laying worker eggs, then there is a possibility that you have a dud unmated, or dysfunctional queen. This can be a problem, as her pheromones suppress the worker’s ovary development, so your hive does not go laying worker. However, she lays no eggs so you end up with no brood.

Action: Requeen.

How Do Different Races Of Bees Deal With A Dud Queen?

I was once part of a few research experiments to ascertain what Apis mellifera scutellata and Apis mellifera capensis will do in the event that a queen is damaged so as not to be able to lay eggs properly.

I cannot find whether this research was ever published after searching for it, and the Professor who did the work has since passed away.

There is a condition that can develop in a beehive where a queen gets ‘cooked’ by high temperatures in the hive. Under these conditions, there is a rapid decline in stored sperm viability in the queen. The result is that she can become unable to lay worker eggs, or in some cases unable to lay eggs at all.

In this experiment, queens from Apis mellifera capensis and Apis mellifera scutellata hives were taken and placed in an incubator at a higher than normal hive temperature for a day. The queens, dazed and bedraggled, but still alive, were replaced in the hives from which they came.

Effect Of ‘Cooking’ A Queen

Queens that had been heated laid drone eggs or no eggs at all. If I remember correctly, in A.m.scutellata hives the queens were killed by the workers. New emergency queens were raised.

In the A.m.capensis hives, the workers began to lay fertilized eggs (as they do). There is evidence to suggest that in these hives workers are always laying eggs. The hives reared new queens that superseded the damaged queens.

We hope this article has helped you understand queen right colonies. Keeping your bees queen right is crucial. Share widely.

Read more about: What Happens If You Kill A Queen Bee