This photo was taken in November during the last inspection and as luck would have it the queen was found to be safe and well. She was laying her last batch of eggs before being thinned down (going on a diet to you and me!) ready for the long winter sleep.

Close up the Richard Challoner queen bee
Laying her last eggs before winter

Egg laying is controlled by her fellow worker bees (all females) and the only times she is starved or thinned down or basically put on a diet is when they swarm or when prepare to sleep through the winter. The colony decide to reduce her body weight in the spring because otherwise she would be too heavy to fly and swarm away with the rest of them.

They restrict her food in the autumn to stop her laying eggs because the bees cannot maintain the 30 degrees within the core of the nest in the winter if they did then food would run out very quickly. 30 degrees centigrade is needed to nurture an egg through to adult hood when the cocoons hatch the adult bee.