Do Queen Bees Stop Laying in Winter?

Do Queen Bees Stop Laying Eggs in Winter?

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In general, older queens tend to stop laying eggs earlier in the autumn season than younger ones. Mattila et al. investigated the effects of late-season requeening by replacing an old queen with a newly mated queen, then allowing the colony to requeen naturally. They used cohorts of 12 days to assess the timing of winter bee egg production in older and younger queens.

Queen Bees

When the temperature drops to minus 13 degrees Celsius, queen bees cluster around her. This amazing cluster keeps her warm despite the freezing weather, and Ted Hooper once recorded a temperature of 31 degrees in this same cluster in minus 28 degrees of air. This is a very important time to keep the queen bee in her nest for her to find food and produce honey. Queen bees stop laying eggs in winter so that the colony can survive the colder months.

when does the queen bee stop laying for winter

While the time of broodlessness will vary based on local conditions, it generally begins in October and continues until about two months before the winter solstice. However, it is possible that the broodless period began later last year than it did this year. This means that beekeepers who observe this phenomenon should be prepared for the fact that it will take some time for the colony to become completely brood-less.

After the first year, the queen bees will start slowing their egg laying. If the queen bee stops laying eggs, her colony will reject her and start anew. The reason for this is because the beehives are dynamic environments, and the colony cannot survive with an old queen bee. That means they will need to replenish their resources every day. The queen bees will feed off pollen to build up their reserves.


Whether or not the winter is affecting the queen bees’ egg-laying activity is a matter of debate. In general, broodless colonies begin around October and end one to three months before winter solstice. Depending on where you live, the timeframe can be even longer or shorter. In some cases, a colony may never be completely broodless, though the amount of brood in a winter hive will be much lower than during the warmer seasons.

A recent study has found that older queens stop laying eggs earlier than do younger ones. In addition, queens typically stop laying eggs earlier in autumn than do younger ones. In warm climates, where temperatures are usually above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the queen continues to lay eggs and drones remain in the hive throughout the winter months. However, if queen bees stop laying eggs during the winter, the bees may not produce enough food for themselves and their brood.

when does the queen bee stop laying for winter

In colder climates, the queen honey bees may stop laying eggs. The remaining workers may continue to feed on pollen in order to maintain a colony. In subtropical and tropical climates, egg laying and brood rearing can continue. However, in colder climates, queen bees may stop laying eggs altogether. While winter may be harsh, it does not mean that a colony cannot survive without a queen.


During the winter, the temperature of the hive drops below fifty degrees Fahrenheit, and the queen will stop laying her eggs. The bees in the cluster will contract into tight clusters on the combs, keeping the temperature within the cluster between 54 and 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the inner part of the hive will increase to ninety degrees when the queen begins laying her eggs.

In the fall, the queen bee does not care about building up her numbers. She is more concerned with conserving her stores and situating the boundaries of her colony for winter. While some queens will continue to respond to feeding in the fall, others will not. In some cases, the hive will go into winter with one empty frame and blow its doors off by April and May. In such cases, it is best to rotate the queen bee eggs in winter.

During the winter, bees will begin building comb in the top of the cluster. This is because warmer air floats above the cluster, making it the warmest place for them. The bees have evolved to store honey in this warm location, making them more likely to survive and pass on their genes. If you want to know the best way to keep your hives healthy all winter, rotate the queen bee eggs every few months.

Size of brood nest

While a queen bee may keep a smaller brood nest over the winter, a larger cluster can rear larger brood in midwinter. Larger colonies also tend to produce more brood during midwinter, but they are more likely to suffer heavy losses during the winter. Several factors may influence the size of the queen bee brood nest in winter. Pollen stores in the fall determine the extent to which a colony rears its brood early. If pollen is scarce or unavailable, colonies delay brood rearing until the spring. If the fall pollen supply is low, colonies will only rear a small number of brood during winter.

In order to provide sufficient honey for brood growth, the hive should have eight to ninety pounds of honey. The excess honey can be stored on pollen frames. An ideal colony should produce about eighty pounds of honey a year, and if you’re able to harvest the excess honey at the end of the winter, you should be able to survive any harsh winters.

During the winter, queen bees may stop laying honey. However, they continue to lay eggs and drones throughout the winter. By the end of the month, the queen should have ceased laying eggs. After this, it’s time to finish winter feeding. Then, prepare for the start of May. If the weather is not good, colonies may even starve. The size of the queen bee brood nest in winter can increase by about 10 to 20 percent.

DWV threat

The DWV virus has recently been linked to a reduction in the lifespan of worker bees. While summer bees typically live only a few weeks in midsummer, their winter counterparts must survive months of cold weather. Bees with DWV infection die off at a faster rate than their summer counterparts. Heavy infection of the bees can lead to an entire colony dying in late winter or early spring. A winter colony may stagger into March, but the loss is still a loss.

Several different mite species are known to be vectors of DWV. The most common ones are Varroa destructor and Tropilaelaps mercedesae. Both have been associated with colony losses, but have yet to be fully investigated. These mites can also transmit the DWV, so the management of these mites is vital. While the effects of DWV on queen bees have not yet been determined, mite-resistant bees may be able to mitigate the impacts of Varroa mites. Moreover, mite resistance may increase the DWV tolerance in honey bees.

Winter colony losses are variable, but they tend to be around 20% per year. These numbers are based on self-reporting from beekeepers, and may not accurately represent losses in actual colonies. This disease may also be the cause of the reduced lifespan of winter bees, especially if they are raised in late summer/early autumn. While there is no definitive proof of a connection between DWV and winter colony deaths, it does seem to affect the life span of the queen bee.

Life span of a queen bee

The life span of a queen bee varies from two to seven years, and is dependent on how many male bees she mates with during her lifetime. In some colonies, the queen mates more than once per day, and lays eggs multiple times a day. However, some colonies experience a shortage of genetic material after a certain number of years and actively replace the queen. Beekeepers must understand why the queen has a shorter life span than other bee species, and how to prevent this from happening in their colonies.

When the queen dies, the worker bees take over and raise a new queen. However, the worker bees’ life span is shorter than the queen bee’s. Summer-born worker bees live six to eight weeks. Winter-born worker bees can live anywhere from four to six months. Worker bees take turns being on the outer edge of the cluster and circulate back towards the center.

However, a study conducted by Rueppell et al. found that the average lifespan of free-flying bees was 21.2 +/-13.9 days. In contrast, a replicate of July at site B had a much longer average AOF at 30.5 +/-17.1 days, which was slightly longer than the average bee life span. In addition, AOF and AFE were positively correlated, but had opposite effects on mortality risk.

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