If you think that your queen bee should begin laying eggs right away, you might be disappointed. There are several factors and influences that impact her ability to fly and slow down her readiness for mating and egg-laying – so how long does it take for a queen bee to start laying eggs?
To determine the length of time for a queen bee to begin laying eggs, you must consider if she is a newly installed queen, a newly hatched queen, or the queen of a split hive or swarm. Plan on a week for a newly installed queen to start laying eggs, while it will take a newly hatched queen bee around two to three weeks. When a hive is split, the queen should begin laying eggs right away.
Want to learn more about taking care of your apiary? Keep reading!
In every colony of bees, there is a single queen bee. She is the one that is responsible for laying eggs and creating the next generation of bees.
She also controls the hive and relies on the other bees for her survival. That being said, the bees rely on the queen, too – without a strong and healthy queen, the entire hive is weak and at its most vulnerable.
So, how long will it take for the queen bee to begin laying eggs and bringing forth new bees? It depends on the queen:
- If your queen has been newly installed to the hive, it should take around seven days for her to begin laying eggs.
- A newly hatched queen bee takes longer, usually two to three weeks, before she will lay eggs.
- If your queen is from a bee colony that has split or swarmed, she should begin laying eggs right away.
Once the queen has laid eggs, it takes about three weeks for baby bees to emerge. These approximate time frames are based on a healthy hive and no unforeseen problems, like foul weather or predators. Hive conditions can easily impact how soon a queen lays her eggs.
So, let’s talk a bit more about these different kinds of queens and how it is that they come to reside in your apiary. There are essentially three different origins for your queen bees:
If you are introducing a new-to-the-hive queen to your colony of bees, it will take some time for her to adjust. Plus, do not forget that the worker bees must adapt and accept her, too.
Once the introductions are over, she should be ready to lay eggs if she has been mated, but if she needs to start mating flights, plan on a couple more days.
Ordering queen bees from suppliers for shipping is a bit different and quite interesting. Usually, the vendor will put the queen in a cage with a sugar plug holding it closed.
You put this cage- of sorts- in the frame of the hive and the bees get to work on the sugary plug until the queen is freed. This extra step in the process of acclimating the queen to the colony takes about a week.
With all factors considered, it typically takes new-to-the-hive queens a week to ten days to start laying their eggs.
Split or Swarm
The situation is slightly different when you are working with a queen from a split colony or a swarm. If you have a colony of bees that is simply too large, the queen will take some of her workers and split to form a second, new colony or hive.
This is called swarming, and should not be confused with absconding, which is when the conditions of the hive drive the bees to make an exit. When a queen splits or swarms, she begins laying eggs right away to help the new colony of bees thrive and prosper.
If the beekeeper notices the hive is becoming too populated, they may split the hive, too. While the colony with the queen will lay eggs right away, the colony left without a queen must wait for a new queen to hatch and mature enough to lay eggs.
Newly Hatched Queen
If a colony of bees is queen-less, such as in the split hive scenario, a new queen will hatch. Queen bees are created from eggs in special cells of the hive that accommodate a larger bee. She is fed royal jelly, which helps her mature faster and lay eggs sooner.
If there are more than one queen hatching and emerging in a hive, they will seek out and kill one another until one queen remains.
This surviving queen then begins her mating flight within several days as her pheromones develop and she continues to mature. She will only leave on a mating flight to find drones on warm days, above 60-degrees Fahrenheit, typically.
It is not uncommon for the queen to make multiple mating flights before laying eggs. When she is mature enough to mate, she will leave the hive in warm weather to be pursued by drones. Queens typically mate with many- ten or more- and then return to the hive.
If this mating flight is unsuccessful, the queen repeats the process. The goal is to fill her oviducts with sperm from drone bees for laying eggs.
If you are wondering when your queen bee is going to lay eggs, relax. It does take a few days for her to adapt to the hive- as well as to pick up on the pheromones of her prospective drones.
The conditions of the hive and apiary also play a part in how fast the queen will lay her eggs for the next generation of bees in the colony.
Consider also how the queen came to be a part of your hive- this will pinpoint the average amount of time required for a queen bee to reproduce.