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Learners will develop strategies to spot a queen bee within the beehive, no matter how packed with bees your colony is.


Key Takeaways 

  1. Queen Bee Appearance: The queen bee is the largest bee in the colony. She has an elongated, pointed abdomen, a shiny and hairless back, and lighter-colored legs.

  2. Tip #1 – Hatching Brood: Look for frames with hatching brood. Silvery-colored bees with soft wings and perforated cell cappings indicate emerging bees. The presence of emerging bees suggests the queen is actively laying eggs nearby.

  3. Tip #2 – Hive Behavior: Observe hive behavior. If the hive is bustling with activity, gently separate the brood boxes onto lids and wait for five minutes. The boxes with calm and composed behavior are likely where the queen resides. Queen-right hives are more organized and settled.

  4. Tip #3 – Search for Eggs: If all else fails, search for eggs. Shake off bees onto vacant frames in the brood nest and look for tiny, elongated eggs. Eggs are only present for 48 hours before hatching into larvae, indicating recent queen activity.

  5. Marking the Queen: Some beekeepers choose to mark their queen for easier identification. However, it’s a matter of personal preference, and some argue it may discourage beginners from learning how to spot the queen naturally.

Central to any thriving honeybee colony is the queen bee, the ruler of the hive. The ability to spot a queen bee is a crucial skill for any beekeeper, as it offers insights into the colony’s health and vitality. In this article, we’ll delve into some valuable tips and techniques to help you become adept at identifying the queen bee.


1. Look for Frames with Hatching Brood

One of the most reliable ways to confirm the presence of a queen bee is by inspecting frames with hatching brood. Hatching brood refers to bees that are silvery in color, with soft wings, and perforated cell cappings that allow you to glimpse the emerging bees’ antennae and mandibles. This visual confirmation signifies that the queen is actively laying eggs, an essential component of a thriving colony. Keep an eye out for these distinctive features as you inspect your beehive.


2. Observe Hive Behavior

Another technique for spotting a queen bee involves observing hive behavior. If your beehive is teeming with activity, it’s time to put your observation skills to the test. Carefully separate the brood boxes onto lids and set them on the ground. Allow about five minutes for the bees to settle down, and then keenly watch and listen. The boxes that exhibit the most composed and calm behavior likely house the queen. A queen-right hive typically displays organized and contented behavior, reflecting the strong leadership of the queen.


3. Search for Eggs in the Hive

When the queen bee proves elusive to your gaze, all is not lost. A smart approach is to search for eggs within the hive. This involves gently shaking off bees onto vacant frames positioned in the heart of the brood nest. Look closely for tiny, elongated eggs. Keep in mind that eggs remain in their egg stage for just 48 hours before they hatch into larvae. So, even if you can’t spot the queen herself, the presence of eggs is a clear indicator of her recent activity.



As you embark on your beekeeping journey, mastering the art of spotting a queen bee will undoubtedly enhance your understanding of hive dynamics and contribute to the overall health of your colony. These tips and techniques—observing frames with hatching brood, reading hive behavior, and searching for eggs—form a valuable toolkit to help you confidently identify the queen bee.


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Guide to Queen-Spotting

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