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.