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Do you requeen often or never?


I read an article about commercial beekeepers in South Australia with 1000 hives. Every year they requeen every hive at a cost of $12,000 (plus all that labor!). They clearly think it’s worth it…

My mums queen is going on 3 years old - we’ve never even contemplated killing her. I guess we just assume the bees will look after supercedure when the time comes…

I’m just curious about what others do?


Never like what the commercial guys do but I inadvertently do it when making splits. I always use the old queen for the split and let the big strong parent hive rear queens.


If a colony is failing I requeen. If they are queenless, I give them a queen or some open brood and eggs or a queen cell. Often I requeen by simply giving them a queen cell and it goes off as a supersedure. Usually if I see them failing I find out they already raised a new queen…


One of our City regulations is that urban beekeepers must requeen every 2 years. That is because of the prevalence of africanized bees in our region. They do not want us to risk our neighbors with aggressive bees, if the hive supersedes the queen naturally.


I split hives every year as swarm prevention and remove one of the queens when I reunite, choosing the best performer. Sometimes its the mother sometimes the daughter.
I am still trying different breeds…still haven’t found the perfect bee :wink:


So the way I read it, you split the hive and it becomes 2 in the spring. Do you then combine them back again in the autumn so the 2 hives become 1 again?


Split in spring and try to reunite as soon as I can evaluate the new queen, hopefully for the summer flow. It all depends on the bees. I don’t pre-empt swarming by splitting before swarming preps are made by the bees themselves. Some colonies insist on making queen cells just as the summer flow starts which is a pain. I either forgo honey from them or requeen after making them hopelessly queenless. You run therisk of them trying to make off later in the year so you have to keep an eye on them.


In my opinion this makes it much MORE likely you’ll get aggressive bees. The F1 crosses are the really mean ones and if you keep bringing in outside genetics and they cross with the local genetics you get an F1 cross every time. In any area (Africanized or not) you should have a contingency plan in case bees get mean. A friend whose place you can take them etc. Then if an issue arises you can load the hive up and remove it immediately instead of spending several days figuring out what to do. Then after you get them requeened and calmed down, you can consider bringing them back home.


I do. My mentor has been keeping bees full time in San Diego for over 50 years. He has several rural apiaries and would help us get the hive somewhere it would not be a nuisance. However, he routinely requeens (usually with Kona queens) and this is what he recommends for local urban hives too. I understand your point of view, but our city regulations and my local mentor both direct that requeening with a known gentle queen is recommended practice for our location.


My experience has been that some suburbs have different gene pools. Some of my hives replace the queens and the new queens are hopeless- I then buy anew queen. Some replace themselves and get very good queens. I find generally buying new queens gets better results, less aggressive, more productive, more effective on pests


So when you do reunite them, what is your process ? Do you use sheets of paper between them or just put them back on. Also when you do the split, do you take the split away or place it in close proximity ??



I look in weekly. When I spot queen cells I move the hive three feet away, put the super/s aside and put a new brood box filled with foundation in its place. Find the queen and put the frame she is on into the middle of the new box, making sure there are no queen cells with her. If there are queen cells on that frame I just put her on one that has none but has preferably sealed brood. I usually add another frame of capped brood but you can get away with just the one. Replace the supers on the new box and close up. The bees will have drawn the frames and the old queen will have that box laid up in no time

Returning to the old hive, I look through the queen cells and choose a nice open one with a fat grub floating in lots of royal jelly, mark the frame and destroy the rest.
Make sure there is food in the brood box as this box will have few foragers for a number of days. Sometimes I put one of the supers back on this hive. If you are dealing with just one flow super you might have to feed this box for a week.
I go back in 5/6 days to check both boxes because they may make more queen cells.
What I have done is separated the queen from the brood. The queen right box has all the foragers and will continue to bring the honey in. The old box will make themselves a new queen but you still run the risk of them throwing a cast swarm if they are strong which is why you have to return to knock down any more queen cells they make (they invariably do.)

Sometimes your queen right box still has a swarming urge so they make another few queen cells and still swarm so you have to knock those down. This is the usual reason for this system failing but if you are on top of it it is a really good method of stopping your colony swarming and keeping your honey.
Once your new queen is up and running you can either kill your old one and unite through newspaper or pop her in a nuc box and keep her as a spare.


Cheers Dee, I love how you have outlined the process & thank you.

have a most outstanding day.:wave:


You are very welcome. I hope it made some sense