time from from laid egg to emerged queen 16-17 days (8-9 days open and 8 days sealed)
time until virgin queen is ready to fly & mate 6-7 days
time from mating to laying eggs min. 2-3 days, often longer
average time from emergence to laying two and three weeks (14-21 days)
average time from laid egg to laying queen approx. 30 days


Queen making & swarming (from: British Beekeepers Association)
1. Bees construct up to 20 wax queen cells, which are acorn like and point downwards.
2. The queen lays fertilised eggs in each queen cell.
3. The young (nurse) bees feed the young queen larvae with a rich creamy food called Royal Jelly, and extend the cell downwards until it is about 25mm in length.
4. Nine days after laying, the first queen cell is sealed with a layer of wax capping.
5. This is the time for a large swarm (called a prime swarm) of bees to leave the hive led by the older bees. The old queen has been starved of food to make her lighter and able to fly. The older bees can jole the old queen to join the swarm.
6. Eight days later first virgin queen leaves her cell. Two things can now occur, either the first virgin queen leads a smaller swarm from the hive (called a cast) or she locates the other queen cells and kills her sisters by stinging through the wax wall of their cells.
7. About one week later the young queen takes her first flight to orientate her to her new surroundings.
8. The queen will shortly take several mating flights in which she will mate with up to 20 male bees called drones.
9. Three days later the mated queen will begin to lay fertilised eggs.
10. This queen will stay with the colony until at least the following year when she too may lead a prime swarm.

From: http://www.norfolkbee.co.uk/beekeepers-resource/when-will-my-new-queen-start-to-lay The time from from laid egg to emerged queen is 16 days (8 days open and 8 days sealed).

It takes another 5 – 6 days before she is ready to fly. She then needs good weather. It seems to be generally accepted that a temperature of over 20 degrees is required before the queen will go out on her nuptual flights. (Some strains will mate in cooler weather but don’t rely on it). The queen will pop out on a number of occasions to mate – between around 10:00 hrs and 16:00 hrs.

It is during this time that you should not be inspecting the hives if you can avoid it and certainly not be looking at hives where there are virgins present. You may see her bees around the entrance of the hive fanning with their nasnov glands as a marker to enable her to find her way back more easily. (There’s a lot of activity outside the hive for a few minutes then the activity dies away again). However if you are bumbling around her hive she may get confused by different visual clues and get lost.

On occasions the queen will leave with an entourage of bees.

Once mated it takes a minimum of two days before she starts to lay eggs – often more in a large colony.

The average time from emergence to laying is between two and three weeks (14-21 days). Certainly you should not be too worried until you have been waiting for 3 weeks; by 4 weeks it’s really getting too late – the queen will be poorly mated and could be superceded quite soon or if not mated at all, will become a drone layer.


It’s very common for new beekeepers to be worried that they have lost their queen and they are frantically  trying to buy a new one from somewhere – anywhere – or they are begging a test frame to be put in (see below)  and then the hive is opened and there’s eggs in the comb after all.