Dealing with a Drone Laying Queen

How to Deal with a Drone Laying Queen

Drone Laying Queen?

How to Deal with a Drone Laying Queen

In this post we’ll look at how to deal with a drone laying queen. What you need to do depends on the time of year / season.
To get the definitions out of the way a drone laying queen is one that is only laying drone eggs, i.e unfertilised eggs. A colony headed by a drone laying queen is doomed to failure so you must act quickly to avoid the demise of the colony.
What you need to do very much depends on the time of year:

Early Spring

A drone laying queen discovered in spring has likely been either a failing queen over winter coming to the end of her reserves of drone semen – so now will only lay unfertilised eggs, or may be the result of a late season supercedure. The difficulty with late season supercedures is that few drones are around and thus late mated queens may not be mated well – hence the queen runs out of semen and becomes a drone layer.

Spring Management

Because the worker bees in the hive will be old and coming to the end of their life it is difficult to warrant introducing a new queen. This is because the workes being old will struggle to produce good quantities of royal jelly to nurse young larvae and also may reach the end of their lifespan before 3 brood cycles have compelted (21 days x 3!) which would be needed to produce sufficient bees to push the colony forward. You can try re-queening but the reality is the colony will always be on the back foot throughout the season and may even perish. You will likely be wasting money on buying an early spring queen to replace a drone layer.
A better solution would be to either shake out or unite with another colony. This gives the other colony the bee power and will create a much stronger colony which can be split out 2 or 3 brood cycles later. You will then end up with 2 strong colonies rather than with the re-queening option where you would end up with one fair colony and the previous drone colony being fairly steady throughout the season or worst still perishing after spending money on a queen.


If you discover a drone laying queen in the summer months it is much more straight forward and successful to simply re-queen the colony as there will be more young bees in the colony than with a drone laying queen colony discovered in spring.

If you need any further help or advice on managing a drone laying queen please just ask, or if you need a queen to replace a drone laying queen you can find our availability on the queen section of the shop.

If you also need help with queen introduction methods please see the queen introduction section.

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