No Brood Doesn’t Always Mean No Queen

Let’s steal more wisdom from the 1947 edition (which seems to reproduce most of the the 1879 edition) of The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture:

This might be a good thing to keep in mind, especially for Newfoundland beekeepers, and especially for Newfoundland beekeepers like me who can see the cold North Atlantic Ocean from their backyard/beeyard.

The first time I noticed a broodless colony was in September of my first or second year, and I thought damn, what am I going to do now? But it wasn’t a queenless colony. The queen had just shut down for the year (stopped laying). Some queens shut down early like that. It seems to be a genetic trait. Russian honey bees supposedly shut down as soon as resources dry up, but Italians will lay sometimes well into November, depending on the temperature. (Most Newfoundland honey bees are a mix of everything, so it can be a challenge to pin down the exact genetic traits at play.) However, I’ve heard from some people who claim that it’s the opposite is true. However one more time, I think it’s the Russian queens that usually shut down early and become broodless before winter.

It’s also good to know that the queen looks smaller when she’s not laying. (I love this book.) I’ve noticed this myself. I’ve also noticed how queens that aren’t well-mated look stubbier than a well-mated queen. Her abdomen is fatter instead of long and slender.

The ABC and XYZ is an excellent beekeeping reference, especially the cheap old timey edition that I have. It seems to have as much relevant information on beekeeping than most modern beekeeping books do.

7 thoughts on “No Brood Doesn’t Always Mean No Queen

  1. Great info, thank you so much.
    ABC and xyz book- is that the old book you are talking about? Who is the author?
    Please share
    Elizabeth

  2. Yup, that’s the book. The original authors were A.I. and E.R. Root, but the current edition that goes for hundreds of dollars is edited by Kim Flottum and some other people.

  3. It’s one of those books I don’t dig into often, probably because it looks so old, some part of my brain thinks the information must be out of date, but it isn’t. Afterwards I always say to myself, “Why don’t I open this book more often?” It’s an excellent beekeeping book.

  4. I don’t worry about inspecting after August…very much in leave the bees alone mode now. I can see lots of pollen coming into the entrance so assume there is still brood, but even if there wasn’t I wouldn’t be too worried.

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