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Hive with many queens, no brood

After swarming in the spring, this hive did well until mid August, then slowed right down. When I took the honey off yesterday there were a dozen or more queens … the laying queen gone, no brood and lots of drone cells. Looked like it did in May after the swarm when I had 20+ queens hatched out. The other three hives are thriving. Was going to just let them sort it out unless there’s advice. Thanks.

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Hey Mike, welcome to the Forums. When you say there are a dozen queens do you mean queen cells? Were they on the face of the comb or along the bottom of the frame? A picture is always a good idea so we see what you see. If you believe you saw a dozen or more live queens walking around then that would be highly unusual and unlikely and so we would have to see a pic to confirm. An emerging queen out of a cell has a limited amount of time to mate, and having just driven past Woodstock Ontario this morning (Dropped one of my twins off at UWaterloo for Chemical Engineering and the other off at Western for Mechatronics Engineering) on way home to the Windsor area I know that the weather is rapidly turning chilly and I would think you might have a problem if you don’t have a mated queen installed quickly. Of course that advice is also dependent on how many bees are still in that colony, and I’m suspicious of you not seeing any capped brood/larvae or eggs at all that you will have enough colony strength to survive winter if the new queen doesn’t catch a break with some warmer weather and get mated. I would also want to know a lot more about your other colonies as perhaps you pull some brood frames from those and put into this hive and boost them up, or simply take this one that has failed and combine it with a strong hive (after getting rid of the queen cells of course) using the newspaper method.

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Hi Tim.

I had John from Oxford Honey look with me in the spring. We estimated that there were 3 dozen or more queens hatched out at that time… we dispatched all of them but one… she got fertilized and te hive did very well until August. I will try to get you a photo… but it was crawling with hatched queens… John has seen hives do this, and he said it’s hard to recover from.

Right now it would appear no fertilized Queen… and so many infertile I’d hate to have to try and clear them by dispatching. I’m only in my fourth year at this… but the scene was very strange. I’m hoping to find a way to get them through winter.


Maybe someone else here will have experience with multiple queens in a hive; I’ve heard of mother and daughter coexisting, but never multiple or a dozen. That isn’t typical or normal and so I am just suspicious that they are truly queens. In any event if you don’t think she has mated once she emerges then the best thing to do would be to combine the hives.

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I agree with you Tim, it is a very strange situation if a hive has more than one queen, but I have heard of a mother and one daughter living in harmony in a large hive. To have a hive with a dozen queens is a new thing to my thinking, if I see a photo I would have to rethink a lot of the possibles of bee keeping.

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If it doesn’t rain I will send some photos tomorrow. Thank you

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Maybe Mike opened up the hive just as the queens emerged and they were in preparation for a royal rumble… :joy:

The other day I counted 8 queen cells just on one frame in my split… with multiple frames, the number could be well in the 20s…

Multiple queen cells normal Fred, but usually the first to emerge kills those in the cells and normally only one queen cell develops to become a mated queen. Survival of the fittest – or the first to emerge. Normally late emerging queens are killed in the cell prior to emerging.


Makes me want to cut them out to save another colony needing a queen…

I assume once the new colony accepts her, she’ll go on a mating flight?

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Yes after a few days I think when their exoskeleton and wings have strengthened.