April 2019 Introduction: This is an excellent video that shows the difference in size and shape of a queen that is laying well and one that isn’t. The one that’s laying well has a long abdomen that goes way past the tips of her wings. The one that isn’t laying well is almost stubby looking compared to the other queen, and as it turns out, the stubby queen got stubbier and stop laying altogether.
I spotted three, maybe four queens during my hive inspections today, but I only managed to get two of them on video and in focus.
Apparently a queen’s abdomen becomes more elongated once she begins laying well. The length of her abdomen can be gauged by the distance between the tips of her wings and the tip of her abdomen. If it’s at least a third of the queen’s length, she’s rocking. The first queen in the video is laying well. The second queen in the video, introduced fives days earlier, hasn’t hit her stride yet. Compared to the first queen, her abdomen is barely protruding out from her under her wings. Her abdomen hasn’t become elongated yet. I found only a few freshly laid eggs in the hive. So it makes sense. I constantly hear contradictory information from beekeepers about everything, but what I’ve been told about queens in this regard seems to be true so far.
October 25th, 2012: The second queen with the small abdomen (that cost me $35) never hit her stride. She was a dud. If she laid eggs, even after a month, it was only a dozen or so a day. Instead of watching the colony slowly dwindle away, I got rid of the queen, split the hive and combined it with two nucs I’d just started up.
Mary 19th, 2014: Here’s a queen surrounded by her attendants:
And here she is again:
April 2019 Postscript: My post, A Stubby Ragged Queen, might illustrate the difference between a strong queen and a weak queen more clearly.
The long dark beautiful queen in the above video did well, but all of her offspring were mean bees. Here’s a video clip of those bees chasing after me in the winter. The mean bees produced a lot of honey, but they were thoroughly unpleasant to deal with, impossible go near them without being chased or stung. Gentle bees can turn to mean bees overnight, especially in the fall, but generally it’s not something I put with if I don’t have to. Nobody likes being around mean bees.
I just updated this post with close up photos of a queen bee.