queen bees

Never trust a queen to be in the right place

How to manage bees for section honey. Maja Dumat

Beekeepers are taught that the queen will most likely be in the brood nest. That is, we trust the queen will be on a frame that contains brood or is ready for eggs. She will almost never be on the end frames, on combs of honey, or strolling in out-of-the-way places looking for peace and solitude.

The operative word here is “almost.”

Much to my surprise and dismay, I have found my queens:

  • In the telescoping cover which I had thrown on the ground
  • In an empty super I had carried back to the shed
  • On a frame of brood after repeated shakings (this has happened a number of times)
  • On the landing board
  • On my sleeve
  • Between the inner and outer covers
  • On the inside wall of the brood box
  • On the top bars

And remember, these are just the ones I found. You should never trust a queen to be where all the books say she will be. Queen bees are free spirits, they wander, they roam, they are curious, and they don’t like your rules.

But in spite of all these sightings, I still go into a hive naively confident that the queen will be in the brood nest . . . and I’m still shocked when she’s not. All of which goes to show more about human psychology than the queen’s.

The safest thing you can do is be cautious when moving equipment or setting boxes on top of each other. If you can’t find your queen, move slowly so all the bees can retreat to safety before you inadvertently squish some.

Honey Bee Suite

Cover image: A queen bee in the brood nest by Maja Dumat via Flickr.

Discover more from Honey Bee Suite

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


  • I’m a new beekeeper this year and have spent 2 years “learning” how to keep bees. When I finally got my bees this year, I found myself not having the information I needed for all the circumstances to come. It was cold for a long time until recently so the feeding of the bees was longer than the month I was told. However, reading this blog has been the best thing ever. I’ve learned more from here than the 2 years of learning from books and classes. I love this article about the queen. It took over a month to finally see the queen . . . eggs everywhere but no sight of her. I would check every other day. It wasn’t until I added the second brood box I was able to see her. Who would have thought more frames made it easier. Now I see her all the time. These articles are the stuff the books don’t tell you. I love your articles Rusty, thanks.

    • Jason,

      Sometimes I wonder if the site is worth all the work. But a comment like yours can keep me going for a long time. So thank you many times over for your kind words.


  • I loved an article awhile ago (memory might be fuzzy) about requeening a hive and it was just before rain and not ideal times. I loved that you wrote about it because it made me realize that others deal with problems like I had. It was a few weeks after installing a new hive. I put my feeder inside an empty brood box. Well I was working 14 to 16 hrs a day at 2 other jobs and one morning realized I needed to check the amount of syrup left but it was barely daylight. Well. . . I found out they don’t like that. I was stung in the neck and knuckle. But I had no choice, the bees need to eat and I wouldn’t be home till after dark.

    The books don’t talk about this stuff so much. So I love your articles about frustration because I believe there are many people out there going through the same thing. The article about beehive smell, loved it. I could relate so much to how precious that smell is. These are the things no one talks about in the books. Keep going, I look forward to reading your articles everyday.

  • This will be my first year trying to be a beekeeper. Because of traveling, I am unable to attend many of the local club meeting so I am relying on the printed word for my education. I did build my own hives which helped I think. Also, I am handicapped so I would not be able to outrun the little buggers so I am trying to prepare well. I live in Northern Illinois, winters are cold.

    Keep the great articles coming. I need all the help I can get.

  • Rusty,

    I read your blogs all the time. I agree with Jason above, your site has more information that is so valuable to me and to others. I am sure it is a lot of work for you but very helpful to others. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures and information!!!!! Jodi

  • Rusty,

    I do have a question about the queen. First year beekeeping and I live in Maine. I have 2 hives, a package and a nuc. The nuc has made a new queen and from my calculations/inspections, she is probably about to be hatched or already has. 1. Should I do another inspection now or wait another week or so? I am anxious because winter is coming and the fear of her not making it back to the hive after mating and then being queenless is a concern. 2. When do I start to worry more or when should I buy a new queen?

    Thank you

    • Jodi,

      The thing I would worry about is whether there are any drones left. My drones here in western Washington have been thrown out for the year, so I would imagine your area is low on drones as well. So even if your queen goes out to mate, she may not be able to find any drones. Even if she does, it takes about three weeks or longer to go from hatch to laying, and then three more weeks before you get brood hatching. That puts you in mid-October. If it were me, I’d try to buy a mated queen while they are still available. If not, and you end up queenless, combine the two colonies.

  • The only problem I find with your website is that it is to good and I can’t stay away. Keep up the good work!

  • Amazing information on your site; please keep it up.

    The most unusual place I found a queen was in my mentor’s beard… after driving away from the yard.