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  1. #1
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    Aug 2002
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    I recently read an article, that stated having two queens in the same hive would produce twice as many bees for honey production.

    It stated that seperating the queens with a queen excluder was the proper proceedure.

    Has anyone done this, is it a common practice, and is it worth the effort?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I've done it. It's rather challenging and interesting. It's always a bit labor intensive. I've done it a couple of ways.

    Method one:
    I built two square deep boxes for lanstroth frames. These each held 12 frames. I cut a dado down the middle and put a 1/4" piece of masonite between to split them into two six frames sections. The bottom box's divider went all the way to the bottom board. (now I'd use some 1/4" laun ply). These two boxes were on the bottom. I installed a nuc on each side of the divider and put a queen excluder on top. (you'd have to find one made for the Dadant style 12 frame hive or make something) Then I put a newspaper on top of the queen excluder and a super on top of that. After they combined there were two queen chambers (of 12 frames each) that they could not get out of. The population booms quickly. I combined them to overwinter. Not sure how that would have gone otherwise.

    I didn't like this method mostly because of the nonstandard equipment involved.

    Method 2:
    The other way is to have a deep with a double queen excluder, then another deep and a queen excluder (or skip this excluder) Install a queen on each side of the excluder. I'd either do this with a shaken swarm or a queenless hive. There is no telling what the bees will do. They may accept both queens or they may not.

    The advantage to this one is standardized equipment.

    I thought it was an interesting experiment, but not worth the effort in the long run. Two good hives will take less work and provide as much or more honey.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply.

    May try it as an experiment, sounds neat if I can get it to work without loosing both queens.

  4. #4
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    Now that I've thought about it, I know what I'd do if I were to try it now. I'd make a double wide bottom board. One piece open on the bottom, that is 20" wide (19 7/8" would be all right) with the opening the 20" direction and about 36" long (wide enough for two 16 1/4" boxes with about a four inch landing board). I'd put two sets of brood chambers on top of wood bound queen excluders and top them with queen excluders. If you wanted to make more communication between the two besides the bottom board, you could make three 9 9/16" wide boxes that hold six frames each and put them on after the brood chamber. Or cut out 3/8" from one side of two boxes to go directly on top of the brood chambers to provide a beespace gap between the two. I think this would work and you wouldn't have such a skyscraper.

  5. #5
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    May 2000
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    Fremont, New Hampshire, USA
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    There is an excellent chapter on creating and maintaining a two queen unit in the book "The Hive and the Honeybee". One advantage of a successful unit is a tremendous amount of honey. However, you might need to add a step ladder to your bee keeping inventory!

  6. #6
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    Aug 2002
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    I will get a copy of the Hive and the Honeybee. I thought that it would be helpful to print the information that I had found and see if you all thought this would be a simple thing to try, and give feedback.

    Here goes:

    Is it possible to have two queens in a single bee hive?

    Normally only one queen is found in each colony of bees. This is because rival queens do not tolerate each other and will generally fight to the death of one (usually the older will be killed by the younger). Worker bees do not care how many queens they have (although they will tend to kill a newly introduced queen as they would any other intruder into the hive). The reason beekeepers may want to have an extra queen in the colony is to increase the number of bees. Bees work more efficiently if their total number is increased. 100,000 bees in one colony produce much more honey than two 50,000 bee colonies. However, it is almost impossible to get that many bees from one queen - she can only lay so many eggs per day, and during the summer months worker bees live only a few weeks.

    Briefly, the way it is done is this: In early spring, the brood section of a strong hive is separated by a screen into two parts - one with a queen and one without. Each part has a separate entrance. A queen is purchased or raised by the beekeeper, and carefully installed in the queenless part. The warmth, hive odors, etc., can circulate between the two parts, but the screen prevents the queens from getting at each other. After a week or so, the beekeeper checks to see if the new queen is accepted and laying eggs. If so, the screen is taken away and replaced by a wire mesh device, the "queen excluder", which allows worker bees to circulate through but the mesh openings are too small to allow the queens to pass. Each queen now lays eggs in her own portion of the hive - one above and one below the queen excluder. If all goes as planned, a rapid population explosion ensues and much honey is produced by the hive! Later in the summer, when all those bees are no longer necessary, the queen excluder is removed, and eventually the queens find each other and settle their differences. Thus the hive is naturally returned to the single queen state again.

    Thanks

  7. #7
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    Jul 2001
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    Marietta, Georgia USA
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    In one of my hive I have two queens living side by side all summer long without queen excluder in between. I did not create this situation on purpose, and I think it is mother and daughter. This is very strong hive both queens are producing great amount of brood and they brought good amount of honey this dry year.

  8. #8
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    Do you think that any of these methods would be successful with a new package of bees, next spring?

  9. #9
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    Aug 2002
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    I have seen two queens, naturally, in a hive before also. It seems that the stories in the books about them fighting to the death were exagerated. From my experience, the workers will accept this as long as there is plenty for them to do. Seems like when the honey flow falls off, the other queen disappears.

    What you're trying to do is create the same thing on purpose. The description you gave above about starting with a strong hive is not consistent with using a shipped swarm.

    The only way I have done it is similar to the above described method. e.g. I always had some brood which I split up into both the areas where I wanted queens and then added one to the queenless part. I couldn't say if it would work with a swarm or not, having never tried it, but I would have my doubts.

    I always used two wood bound queen excluders on top of each other, because I was afraid they would fight through the excluder. They can get their abdomen through it to sting. Maybe it's not a problem though. As I said, I've seen two queens not even seperated coexisting so maybe it would work as well with only one.

    Again, my opinion is it's less trouble to keep two regular hives than one double queen hive, but it is a fun experiment if you have the time. Experiments like this are how you find out what the bees are really like.

  10. #10

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    hello
    why do you want 2 queens in a hive?
    after what I just read I think one good young queen does the job
    and have you ever thought about it takes honey to raise bees and the more bees gets you into a bigger problem.

    after the honey flow stops or slows down the bees seem to start swarming
    I thought I seen it all after 48 yrs in the beekeeping/
    but that is what makes beekeepers wanting to experiment.
    as for the amount of honey if you don't have rain and flora=you wont make honey no matter how many bees you got
    Don

  11. #11
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    Aug 2002
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    I am simply playing the devil's advocate on both side of this, so please don't try to convice me.

    Why you would run 2 queens:

    The theory is that if the success of a hive is dependant on a good prolific queen, then running two queens will be the same principle to a further extent. In other words, if you end up with two mediocre queens in a hive they will do as well as one really prolific queen. If you get two really prolific queens you'll get even more production (honey etc.).

    Why you wouldn't want 2 queens in one hive:

    It's harder to set them up this way. It's harder to maintain this way. Any problems or successes you have are exagerated. For example:

    You have to check the hive often because the population booms quickly and they can swarm before you catch it.

    The strength of one of these hives, especially if you get two REALLY prolific queens, can explode overnight. This seems nice, but when a hive of this strength decides to get defensive, it is really scary.

    All in all a two queen hive makes for a very strong successful hive, and requires a lot more close supervision.

    My opinion is that it requires too much oversight for a commercial endevour.

    Is there any commercial beekeepers out there running two queen hives? I'd love to hear what you think.

  12. #12
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    Aug 2002
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    I just read an article that was speaking about feeding bees. In the article it speaks of two queen hives. The amount of honey obtained from these hives was around 300kg. (660 lbs per hive). Does this sound possible. The article is very good I think. I have listed the link below and would really like to know what your thoughts are.

    Link = http://www.honeybee.com.au/library/ca.html

    Thanks, for all the info, I have already started planning my two queen hive for next spring.

    DOug

  13. #13
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    Aug 2002
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    Id say someone may have gotten a 660 pound harvest from one, but I would not think this is typical. I got about twice as much honey as from one hive, and worked a little more than twice as hard to get it, but maybe there are situations where they do better or tricks to the process that help them do better. I'd still love to hear from a commercial beekeeper who runs two queen hives routinely. My guess is, there aren't any. But if there are, I'd love to hear their opinion.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
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    Hello Everyone,

    I have played with two queen hives and will toss in my two cents worth.

    The hives are definately much more work. They are tall and can easily fall. It's impossible to move them if the need arises.

    Some types of bees accept a two queen situation and some don't. It's not easy to tell before hand what the acceptance will be so more hard lifting is required to make sure everything goes ok after the initially joining them together. I have had them reject both queens, supercede one or both queens, etc., weeks after they initially appeared to accept the double queen situation.

    There are less options than compared with two stable hives. I would rather have one of two hives fail than have a single double queen hive fail.

    So what's saved? Basically the cost of an additional bottom board and cover.

    So what's gained? Mostly bragging rights as lbs/hive are about double.:> )

    I know several other commercial beekeepers who have experimented with double queening but none that use it.

    As a commercial queen rearer in a rather short seasoned area, I tried to use it to provide the additional bees needed early in the year. I had rejected it after experimenting for several years.

    Dennis

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