The Piping Queen Revisited

I forgot to post an update about the possible Piping Queen I heard in a queenless colony a while ago. (It’s a longer-than-usual but detailed post that might be interesting for beekeepers who’ve never encountered piping or even heard of it.) The update: I pulled a frame from the hive six days after I heard the piping and found a frame full of royal jelly.

Brood cells full of royal jelly. Signs of mated queen (I hope). (Aug. 10, 2015.)

Royal jelly found in a hive that’s been queenless for more than a month. (August 10, 2015.)


Royal jelly isn’t a guarantee that I have a well-mated queen. I could have a laying worker or a drone-laying queen. But I’m taking it as a good sign. For now on if I hear piping, I’ll assume that a good queen is present. A shot in the dark: The virgin queen mated the very day I heard the piping. (I’ll update this post if it turns out the queen is a dud.)
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A Piping Queen – Virgin or Mated?

SHORT VERSION: I heard what I believe is the sound of a new queen piping, but I was unable to spot the queen because, most likely, she hasn’t been inseminated by drones yet, and thus probably looks like every other bee in the hive (she doesn’t get big until she mates and begins laying). If a queen bee doesn’t mate within about 20 days, then it’s game over. Tomorrow is Day 20 for this queen. Bloody great.

LONG VERSION: Well, here comes another learning experience.

Are these bees acting like they have a queen? I hope so. (August 03, 2015.)

Are these bees acting like they have a queen? I hope so. (August 03, 2015.)


I checked on a hive yesterday that was queenless and in the process of capping a supersedure queen cell a month ago. I didn’t touch the hive until today when I discovered no signs of brood and no queen that I could see — but I did hear a high pitched piping squeak from one frame that sounded similar to something I recorded back in 2011 (see Piping From Inside The Hive):

I followed the sound of the piping on the frame for five minutes but couldn’t spot the queen. It was maddening. So I carefully put the frame and everything else back the way I found it so I could ponder over what might be happening in that hive. So let us ponder…
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Piping From Inside The Hive

I heard what’s often referred to as piping from the bottom of Hive #1 yesterday. (Read more about piping at Honey Bee Suite.)

Piping sounds usually come from newly emerged queen bees. We requeened this hive back on July 11th. I’m not sure what to think. Perhaps it’s not piping at all. At any rate, I got it on tape:

You might need to crank up your speakers.

Sounds From Inside The Hive

My ventilated inner cover allowed me to place a recorder in the hive without disturbing the bees. The sound might surprise you.

If you can’t play the audio file, you can download the MP3. (Right-click and select “Save as…” or hold down the Alt key and click the link. Mac people, do whatever you do.)

Honey Bees (Audio)

I picked up 3 nuc boxes of honey bees last night. 2 for me, 1 for someone who should be picking up her bees today. Here’s a shot of the boxes and the bees close-up.

I’ll install the bees into my hives later today. I’ll document it all eventually. In the meantime, this is what the bees sound like in their boxes.


(The bees come in around the 1:00 mark.)

PHOTOS NOTE (AUGUST 2015): The photos in this post may not display properly because they were uploaded through Google’s Picasa online photo album service, a service I no longer use because certain updates created more work for me instead of streamlining the process. I will eventually replace the photos with ones hosted on the Mud Songs server. This note will disappear when (or if) that happens.