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Pros and Cons of raising a queen in different seasons

Although this question stems from me considering raising a new queen in autumn before going into winter to replace my current 2.5yo queen. I was wondering what are the pros and cons of raising your own queen (so not replacing with a bought mated queen or with a swarm queen cell) in each of the different seasons except winter.

On a side note, should I just let the colony supercedure this queen? She is still laying a nice pattern of brood and bees are pretty docile. Not sure the laying rate though. Friend is suggesting to replace so less chance of swarming next spring. It was an unwanted split, so only just expanded to all 8 frames.

Thank you in advance

Raising your own queen is ok if you are happy with her being of a calm strain which is the most important trait in my opinion. After all, a bought queen can be a bigger risk as there is no guarantee about her other than that she is mated and laying. But that is only my opinion and I don’t buy queens.
It is more than the age of the queen that can trigger a hive to swarm and that is only one consideration but of lesser importance.
If I don’t want a Spring swarming I do an early Spring split (July up here) and I do a strong split. I very seldom have swarms happen. I also don’t look to replacing a queen in a colony except in the Spring, as in nature, that is when a hive will split if the conditions dictate it.
Sounds like your queen is still laying well with a good pattern, if she was beginning to fail the laying pattern would be hit and miss. So for what it is worth I would leave her to do her thing and next Spring either do a split and terminate her then or if the hive then is not to large then just terminate her and let the colony do what comes naturally and they will produce a new queen.
Having one hive I would do a Spring split as a second hive has so many benefits and needs little extra time to care for.
Cheers Eric


This is my second hive. I bought my first hive as a nuc. Both hives are new and have drawn all the frames. This weekend hoping to inspect and see if a super each is needed.

I am in melb surburbia so i think splits are done maybe mid-late Sept? I guess i could do a vertical split to raise a new queen then recombine both splits with the new queen.

When would be the latest before no drones around to mate a new queen?

@Peter48, What do you consider a strong split?


I would think late September would be about the right time for your climate. I’m guessing drones will be about till mid Autumn when your hive there would be ‘closing down’ in preparation for Winter. But then is a nuc a saleable item then, I sell complete hives, when I say complete I mean even down to a mouse guard, super and em-lock and they sell easily in the Spring but I don’t even get inquiries for the rest of the year.

I normally take 1/2 of everything with the queen if I can find her going to the new location if I can’t straddle the original hive location with both splits so that the drift of adult bees balances out somewhat to give 2 strong hives more often than not a single brood box hive that will pick up quickly.
All of my queens are marked so after 3 or 4 weeks max I look to find the queen that is marked and check she is laying brood. I then check the other split for a new laying queen and mark her and check she is going well. On the next inspection I am set up to add a super expecting the hive is strong enough to need a super.
All of my hives are 8 frames with a single brood, a metal QX and a super. I do have a single 10 frame hive that I is a double brood hive only that I use as a donor hive I use as a supliement to a weaker hive as I prefer to keep all of the hives strong and equal as it helps prevent robbing. Even last Autumn when I had a dearth robbing didn’t happen.
Hope that answers your question Fred, it works for me as I am building up the number of hives in my main apiary. But the number fluctuates with people buying full hives. @JeffH is only 18 K’s away so anyone wanting a nuc I pass on to him.


The answer to that will partly be decided by what your bees do in the various seasons. Your climate looks pretty similar to mine, and if that is the case, I bet your queens stop laying drones in around March (mine stop in early September). This means that a couple of weeks after mid-summer, virgin queens may find it difficult to get well-mated, as there won’t be a lot of drones around.

According to my mentor, his bees start making drones again in mid to late December (mid to late June for you) and swarm season starts about 6 weeks after that. Swarm season won’t start until there are plenty of drones for mating.

Putting this all together, and allowing time for drones to mature and accumulate numbers, I would say that trying to raise a new queen between February and July in your climate, may result in a poorly mated queen. I may be totally off the mark, but it seems pretty likely based on your climate.

Having said all that, I can get beautiful queens from Hawaii year-round. The climate there is tropical, of course, so if you have access to somebody who can rescue you with a queen from a sub-tropical or tropical apiary, you have options.

Your friend is totally correct, by the way. First year queens rarely swarm if you give them enough space. Second year queens swarm more frequently, and third year queens even more so. Doesn’t mean yours will, but it becomes more likely as time goes by, unless they supersede her first. :wink:

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Is there a way to tell the age of the queen?

Only if she was marked soon after she started laying. There is an international code for the age of queens. A dot of special paint is put on her thorax. This it is green. Next year will be blue.

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Mine is pink. I saw somewhere else someone mentioning pink marking but couldn’t find the year.

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Could be a real mark, or it could just a mark from an amateur in any old colour. :blush: I have a friend who marks all of their queens with an orange dot. They just want to know if the queen has swarmed or been superseded. That should never be the case with a sold queen - either correct colour, or no mark. Orange is not an approved colour, and neither is pink. Here is the accepted convention:


Thanks @Peter48 , it certainly has educated me some more. I agree that an even split (strong split) is a good swarm prevention measure from my experience. In my attempt, I have failed to create evenness in colony strength and not being able to spot my queen has added to that problem. However, splitting in spring and raising a queen in spring season has been my saving grace.

I don’t plan to expand my apiary, so future splits may not be as strong, but enough to prevent swarming.

That 3/4 week max period of yours is due for me soon, so i will be checking my new split.

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Mine is pink too nuts. Did you get yours from a guy named Darren in Wanneroo?