Requeening a hive that may have already had a queen?

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?

1 Like

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.


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.


Dawns right. The bees will do one in.