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Requeening a hive that may have already had a queen?


#1

I had two seemingly queenless hives. I’ve been giving them frames of brood periodically to keep them going but didn’t see any signs of queens when I should have. Yesterday local beek rang me- he had a spare queen that he was going to euthanise unless I wanted it. I said yes bring it over.

I went to put it in the larger of the two queenless hives- one that I had inspected a week ago and found no eggs in at all. I had a quick inspection- and what do you know: fresh eggs. So that hive had finally managed to requeen itself. OK- no problem I went to put her in the other hive. I had a brief look and couldn’t see any brood, and that hive had lots of honey and bee bread. However I think did see one tiny patch of eggs- I say i think as it was getting dark and I couldn’t be totally sure what I was seeing. certainly no brood at all. I was not sure if they might be dead eggs from a frame of brood I gave that hive around 12 days ago… More likely is that that hive managed to make a queen as well after all. Not knowing what to do I put the queen in a cage on top of the bars and left her for ten minutes. When I came back there were bees on the cage and they seemed happy- no sign of any attempts to sting the queen. So I installed the cage between the bars and closed up the hive.

If that hive does indeed now have two queens I assume they will fight it out. However I am a little concerned about that process: could both queens end up getting damaged? The idea that two queens could fight to the death- and that the victor would come out relatively unscathed seems odd to me: Muhammad Ali beat Joe Frazier but as Joe said afterwards: Ali was never the same man after that fight…

Or would the introduced queen be killed by the worker bees and not the reigning monarch?


#2

Hi Jack, I’m not sure what the outcome would be for you. I would not use a queen that is past her use by date. What I’ve been saying all along is to keep on giving them a frame of brood, they will eventually make a new queen. The increase in population means that the hive’s mind will naturally want a new queen. Therefore they’ll make themselves one. If not today’s frame of brood, tomorrows frame of brood (next weeks rather).

The only thing that I use an old queen for is in an observation hive, where she is not required to lay large numbers of eggs.


#3

When queens kill other queens, it is usually queens which haven’t emerged from their queen cell. If there are 2 mated queens in the same hive, the workers usually ball the queen they don’t want before the other queen can get in on the fight. Not always, but usually. I think queen on queen damage is unlikely, but possible. I wouldn’t worry about it.


#4

Dawns right. The bees will do one in.