BeekeepingStudy: Beekeeping Made Easier

Can A Queenless Hive Survive The Winter? (What To Do)




Can a queenless hive survive winter?

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Also, we do not constitute pet medical advice. Please consult a licensed veterinarian in your area for pet medical advice.

Winter is a tough season for bees. In addition, if the hive becomes queenless, that could be devastating for the colony members. So, can a queenless hive survive the winter?

The truth is, a beehive can’t survive long without the queen. If it is during winter it will be more worse for them.

In case you see the hive become queenless, there is a way to help them to survive the winter. That is by introducing a new queen to the hive.

One of my social media followers texted me last winter that – his beehive lost its queen during winter and there is no brood. What should he do to save the rest of the bees?

I helped him with some tips. Fortunately, he was able to save his colony.

That also occurs with some of my colonies too. I have almost every time successfully saved my queenless colony.

That’s what I am going to share with you in this post for the survival of a queenless hive throughout the cold winter.




How Long Can A Queenless Hive Survive?

A queenless hive probably not be able to survive more than 4 weeks. If the colony members were unable to get a new queen within 3 to 4 weeks they might die.

Because the entire bee colony is run by the queen. The queen bee is the only one in the colony who can mate and lay fertilized eggs. So, no queens means no new member. Thus the colony will be destroyed as soon as the current members die.




What Happens To A Queenless Beehive?

First of all, without the queen, the reproduction system will be destroyed and no new generation will be created for the survival of the colony.

Moreover, the worker bee reaches the hive after collecting pollen following the pheromone released from the queen’s body. Without the pheromone released by the queen, it is very difficult for the worker bees to find their home.

Queen Bee Inside The Hive
Queen In A Colony


So, if the hive remains queenless for a large period of time, above 3 or 4 weeks, you will probably lose all of your bees of that colony.

Actually, the queen runs the entire colony. The pheromone released by the queen co-ordinates all the workers. The responsibility of each member of the colony is distributed by the queen. 

This is why if there is no queen, no distribution of work and no co-ordination. Thus the hive may be destroyed soon.

First, the worker will try to create a new queen from the existing broods. If they couldn’t be able to select their new queen they would die soon.




Are Queenless Hives More Aggressive?

Yes. Queenless hives are more aggressive whatever the season is. The existence of the colony depends on the queen. So, if there is no queen, the colony will be completely destroyed soon.

These will make the other remaining bees more aggressive.

Just think, what if suddenly the prime minister of a country dies?  The distribution of the work to run the country will be failed. As a result, there will be a start of chaos everywhere.

That’s what happened with the bees of the queenless hive too. This makes them comparatively more aggressive than usual.




Can A Queenless Hive Survive The Winter?

A hive without a queen won’t be able to survive more than 3 to 4 weeks. During winter, bees probably not going to survive more than 21 days without the queen. Because during winter, workers has a lot to do. Without the queen, the distribution of work is not possible.

Can a queenless hive survive the winter
A queenless hive


During winter there is a lot to do by the colony members for survival. 

  • First of all, they need to work hard to control the moisture within the hive.
  • There are shortages of flowers around, that create a shortage of food for them.
  • Moreover, without the queen, no new colony member will be produced who can save the existence of the colony.
  • Without the queen, other bees will become mad. 
  • Day by day you will find the number of bees is exponentially decreasing. Because they probably died or lost their path to reach home while they left the hive to collect pollen.
  • Within 2 to 3 weeks the entire colony will be destroyed. Sorrowfully I have to say probably you won’t find a single bee left in the hive.

If you don’t take any proper steps within this period of time, you might lose all of the colony members.





So, Is There Any Way To Save A Hopelessly Queenless Hive In The Winter?

Yes, there is a way. The only way to help a queenless hive survive the winter is by introducing a new queen to them in any way.

Queen Brood Nest
Queen Brood Nest


Because no honey bee colony can survive without any queen. When a queen has just died, you may have to wait for a few days first.

Because the worker will try to select their new queen from the existing larvae and broods.

Consider the previous example, when the prime minister dies, the government party will try to select a new prime minister from their existing members. That’s what bees also try first after the queen died.

If you don’t find any queen broods after two weeks, you should try to introduce a new queen to the hive. There are different ways to requeen a queenless hive. So, let’s learn a common method, that beekeepers use to requeen a queenless hive.




How Do You Requeen A Hopelessly Queenless Hive?

There are several ways to requeen a queenless hive. You can follow the following tips for the survival of your queenless hive in the winter.

  1. Check For Frame Containing Broods: First of all, you have to check whether there is any frame left which have broods. If so, leave the colony for a few days. Because the worker bees will try to prepare their new queen. Thus the colony will somehow manage to survive through the winter. So, you don’t need to do anything for them for at least a week.
  2. Merge The Hive With Others: If there is no queen brood cell present & have only 4 or fewer frames that have bees, you can split that hive and merge them with any 1 or 2 other strong colony that has a queen.
  3. Add Brood Frame From Another Hive: If you have another beehive that has more than one frame having brood nests, you can take 1 frame containing broods of not more than 24 hours of age from that hive, and place it within the queenless beehive.
  4. Add The Queen From Another Hive: If you have a beehive having more than one queen. You can take the younger queen basically it is in its larvae stage. Then put her in a cage and add to the queenless hive.
  5. Purchase A New Queen: If you can’t manage any brood-containing frame or there is no way of merging the hive with another one. Then purchase a new queen from the nearest beekeeper or online. The queen will come in a cage having a candy plug. You have to carefully introduce the queen in a cage to the queenless colony.


How To Help A Hopelessly Queenless Hive During Winter


Whatever you are trying, you have to make sure there is a queen present. If the queen dies, you have to introduce a new queen to the hive. Without any queen, no honey bee colony will be able to survive. During winter it is impossible.




Frequently Asked Questions


What if my hive has no brood?

It is a sign that the queen died a few days ago. And there is no way left for the worker to select their new queen. In this situation, you have to introduce a new queen to the hive.

How long can you leave a hive queenless?

You can leave a queenless hive for 1 week to up to 2 weeks. Usually, the worker will try to create a new queen from the existing broods. The process takes up to 14 days. So, you can leave them alone to select their new queen within this period of time.

What to do with a weak hive going into winter?

If you have multiple strong colonies, split the weak one and merge it with one or multiple strong colonies. With time both colony bees will adopt. So, the chance of survival for the weak colony through the winter will increase.

How long does it take a queenless hive to make a new queen?

Usually, the workers try to make a new queen from the broods within 7 to 10 days. In some cases, it can take up to 14 days. Even there is a chance that workers have failed to make a new queen.

What to do with a hopelessly queenless hive?

You can split the hive into 2 and merge them with 2 other strong colonies. Or even you can purchase a new queen bee, and introduce her to the queenless hive.




Final Words & References

It is impossible for a queenless hive to survive the winter. So, as a beekeeper, you must be careful about them and introduce a new queen for their survival.

Otherwise, your entire colony might be destroyed. Not only winter, bees won’t survive long without the queen in any season.

Also, in winter bees need extra care for survival. Because winter produces humidity that makes the hive unhealthy. Bees might get attacked by varroa mites.

You can create a beehive moisture board or quilt box to help your bees to control extra moisture throughout the winter.



Following Are The References That Could Be Helpful To Learn More About Queenless Hive 



About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest posts