Earlier this year some of us discussed requeening hives durring the summer nectar flow with queencells. The idea was that you could drop a ripe queencell in the top honey super without having to find the queen and kill her. The thory is that the new virgin will emerge, kill the old queen, then mate. This is to make requeening easier, and brake the brood cycle to control mite populations. This was also suspected to increase honey production due to the hives not having to feed brood.
In July I marked 15 of my old queens, then a few days later I gave them a queen cell as discribed above. I also gave queen cells to 11 other hives that did not have a marked queen. Here were the results.
On July 23rd I gave the queen cells to the hives.
On August 20th, 21st, and 22nd I went around and checked all the hives.
All 15 of the hives that had marked queens no longer have marked queens. The queens that were found are now unmarked. Also each hive no longer has 6-8 frames of brood in the bottom deep of the brood chamber. Some of these hives now only have two frames of brood in verious stages of development, and lots of eggs. A couple of the hives have two frames of wall to wall capped brood and two other frames of open brood and eggs in verious stages of development. Also one important side effect that I have not been able to figure out yet, my hives are facing the east, and each new queen seems to have started laying in the top deep on the north side of the box, and is working her way to the middle; the bees also seem to have moved or used the frames of honey from that area. A couple of the queens have also moved down and layed a few eggs in the lower deep when she ran out of room on the top deep.
Of the 11 un-marked hives that also got queen cells, the same conditions were observed, with one hive's queen having failed to mate and went queenless. A mated queen was given to that hive on the 21st. One other hive was eliminated from this test due to the bottom deep being pollen bound with full honey stores in the upper deep and very little space for the queen to lay, that problem has now been resolved.
Four full sized hives and 8 one deep hives were observed as a comparison. These hives were not given queen cells, and the old queen was left as is. However, when I say old queen, it was because these queens were added in the spring. Every one of these queens were mated this year. Of the four full sized two deep hives, brood was found in the center of the lower deep and in the center of the upper deep with honey and pollen above the brood in the usual horse shoe shape.
1. Easy to requeen.
2. You end up with a young queen going into winter.
3. Mite counts are now very very low.
1. Must be done durring a summer nectar flow if the old queen is left in the hive, as summer is the time they will usually superceede. If done at the wrong time of year, they will simply kill the queen cell.
2. No increase in honey production was noted. On the other hand, it may have even decreased honey production in some hives. Some of these hives had lots of capped honey in the top deep before I gave them the queen cells, and that honey is gone now. No robbing was observed over the past four weeks.
3. A serious reduction in population was noted in about half of the hives that were given queen cells.
4. I will now have to aggressively feed some of these hives because the population will not be strong enough to take advantage of the fall flow.
5. In my mating nucs I usually get 75% success in mating, so I assume that I just got lucky in the amount of queens that got mated successfully in the full sized hives. That means that 25% of my hives would normally go queenless, introducing more problems like possible laying workers.
6. You have to dig into the hives to find that you have a mated queen, and this is now done after the main flow when the bees are more defensive of their honey stores.
The negative side effects seem to out weight the benefits. In my opinion, it is better to have the queens mate in a mating nuc, then introduce them to the production hives. This way you still get a young queen going into winter without risking your production hives.