Something that can be devastating for many beekeepers is when their queen bee isn’t laying eggs. It can massively reduce the rate of reproduction and honey products, meaning it isn’t a good situation for either the hive or the beekeeper. But why isn’t your queen bee laying eggs, and what can you do?
Typically, most queen bees only live for a few years at most laying eggs. When the worker bees decide she isn’t laying enough, they’ll replace her with a new queen that will. However, you can make your queen bee stimulate egg-laying by offering her 1 to 1 sugar syrup. This will mimic nectar flow and increase the chances of the queen laying eggs.
After reading the above, you can quickly understand why your queen bee isn’t laying eggs. This can be frustrating, to say the least. However, you’re able to stimulate nectar flow by using 1 to 1 sugar syrup, which can enhance reproduction possibilities.
Why is my queen bee not laying eggs?
The simple fact to remember is that, although queens are capable of living for around 5-7 years, their egg laying ability often declines within a few years. This queen will quickly be replaced with one that is more productive. Most of the time, if your queen stops laying, it may just be a case of waiting for a new queen to appear. Despite the name, the queen is definitely not in charge of the hive; the workers are. If she isn’t performing well, they’ll get rid of her as soon as they can.
That said, there are other reasons your queen might not be laying eggs. A simple lack of nectar flow into the hive can seriously disrupt egg-laying for obvious reasons. Without enough nutrient supply, the queen can’t produce eggs to lay in the first place. As I said, then, with 1 to 1 syrup, you can sort this out pretty quickly.
Other than that, it may just be an issue of time. You might just need to be patient. It can take three or four weeks to set up your hive before any noticeable egg-laying occurs.
There are some things you can do to stimulate egg-laying, though, so let’s take a look.
How do you stimulate a queen bee to lay eggs?
As already mentioned a couple of times, the most common issue with queens not laying is simply that they don’t have a good enough nutrient source. Provide them some 1 to 1 sugar syrup and note their progress after that.
The thing that actually stimulates the queen to lay eggs is the workers. As I mentioned, they have all the power in the relationship and they’re the ones who feed her. Providing the nectar and pollen will stimulate them to get her laying.
Pollen patties are another great option since bees rely on both nectar and pollen. These actually do not contain pollen but are simply a formulated bee food that will help stimulate egg-laying.
If you’ve introduced lots of extra food and you still see no eggs, the problem is most likely time. So let’s look at how long you can expect to wait.
How long before a queen bee lays eggs?
There are different ways of introducing a queen to a colony, but essentially a newly set up hive or a new queen will take around a week to start laying eggs. However, there are a couple of caveats to that point.
If you’re introducing a new queen to a hive, typically, it’s best practice to do what’s called a delayed-release. This is where you leave the queen in her own cage for 3-5 days within the colony so that they can get used to her before she’s released. There’s always the risk that the colony could reject and kill the queen if she is introduced too fast.
With that in mind, you should probably add that to your timeframe. Once the queen is released, she will typically already be mated, but it will take her a few days to get used to her environment and start laying eggs.
Remember, as well, she’s just one queen. She has to do all the laying herself, and it can take a while. Expect another week or two before you start noticing substantial amounts of eggs in the hive.
What happens when a queen bee stops producing eggs?
When a queen stops laying eggs, what happens is that, ultimately, the colony will reject her. Beehives are incredibly dynamic environments, and bees need to be replaced every day. There are lots of jobs and work to be done in a beehive, and there’s no room for caring for the elderly.
The first thing the hive will do is attempt to rear a new queen. The old queen may attempt to challenge the new one, but if there is a new, virile queen competing with an old, no longer laying queen, then the hive will have no difficulty making a choice.
Eventually, the queen will either leave or be killed by the rest of the colony. The bees’ relationship to their queen is perhaps not what we quite imagine; certainly not what you would think the word queen connoted.
Can a virgin queen bee lay eggs?
You might be surprised to learn that a queen bee doesn’t actually need to mate with other bees to lay eggs. Virgin queens can lay eggs, but those eggs will only develop into drones, not workers. Worker bees are always female, whereas drones are male. In a bee colony, the drone’s only role is to mate with the queen.
So, a virgin queen can and will lay eggs, but if she becomes a drone-layer (only laying unfertilized eggs), the colony will eventually wither and die. They need workers to survive.
This is not to say that virgin queens will always lay. They won’t always lay drone eggs, and often they will only become a drone layer after extended periods of not mating. This is where the real problem lies as now. Even if they do mate, they can’t lay workers, only drones. Keeping your queen mating with a lot of drones is an excellent way to stop this from happening.