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Thread: 2 queen hives

  1. #1
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    Default 2 queen hives

    I'm planning on starting a 2 queen hive this year with packages. I've read up on all the set up, but nothing tells you how long you need to build up the hives before you go back to one hive.
    I'll be statrting with mostly new undrawn foundation, with a few drawn frames.
    So my question is, at what point do I remove the divider and let the queens duke it out.
    I'm located in NYC.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    I have never done a two queen hive, but I would save the best queen by removing the other one myself rather than letting them fight, you never know which one will survive, and you may end up with two dead queens. John

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Two queen colonies is almost just a thing of the past when Varroa destructor come to the US. Many advocates of natural beekeeping suggest maybe keeping smaller colonies and more of them in the fight of Varroa mites. Just understand double the brood = double the mite infestation and associated issues.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    BMAC, that's what I have found to be the case also, the stronger the hive the more mite problem. John

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Quote Originally Posted by ryandebny View Post
    So my question is, at what point do I remove the divider and let the queens duke it out.
    I'm located in NYC.
    Never. Take some of the honey and split the hive. One may not make it through the winter so you will have a better chance next spring.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  6. #6
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Quote Originally Posted by ryandebny View Post
    I'm planning on starting a 2 queen hive this year with packages. I've read up on all the set up, but nothing tells you how long you need to build up the hives before you go back to one hive.
    I'll be statrting with mostly new undrawn foundation, with a few drawn frames.
    So my question is, at what point do I remove the divider and let the queens duke it out.
    I'm located in NYC.
    You don't seem to be interested in having a "two queen hive". Your plan sounds more like a very expensive way to have one hive.

    I might play with a couple of Tower Hives this year...



    And I'll use queen excluders to prevent any queens from "duking it out".
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    I like your pictrue. I have not read or seen it done in this fashion before. You will have to let us know how it works. Atleast with this fashion it seems like you can better treat both colonies and inspect them without much hassle.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Quote Originally Posted by BMAC View Post
    I like your pictrue. I have not read or seen it done in this fashion before. You will have to let us know how it works. Atleast with this fashion it seems like you can better treat both colonies and inspect them without much hassle.
    The photo is from this site : http://www.mdbeekeepers.org/towerhive.html
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    If you do it this year will it be the first attempt?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    The photo is from this site : http://www.mdbeekeepers.org/towerhive.html
    I've been thinking for some time about the pros and cons of 2Q. I think I would do this and follow the UMD guidelines even though I'm in MO. Variables are that I don't know the specific breed of my queens and they would likely vary significantly from colony to colony. I also plan to step up my checkerboarding of foundationless frames. I may need to keep other colonies within a hundred ft. of these colonies from time to time.

    Upside: I'm revamping my site and stands now so it's a good time to prep.

    Looking at the guidelines: The phrase "Ensure that each is disease free, has a laying queen, and is approximately the same in size."

    How can we be sure of a hive being disease free? Dose that imply a Beltsville test of each colony or prophylactic treatment (which I didn't do)?

    Not a fan of the plastic drone frames, I may substitute the foundationless here or simply a shallow or medium frame for bees to draw drone.

    I didn't even know this was a IPM technique, I thought it was a production technique.
    Disclaimer: I've never been a bee.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    The advantage of having a second queen is lost about 1 month before the end of the honey flow becuase any eggs laid will not become foragers before the flow is past.
    Most people wait until the flow is done to either pull the divider and unite the two queens or separate and winter two single queen hives.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    We've been running 2 queen units since 1995. We currently run 250 annually and have good success with it. They are very labor intensive for about a month. I enjoy the challenge and the success of doing them, my son much less so. In a good year you will double your crop (see the studies) and in a bad year you'll be feeding the monster. The queen in the top will be there for 21 days + the time to release her so we figure 23 days. The workers in both the top and bottom will have accepted both queens is you are using a standard 2 queen board ( has a cut out with a queen excluder about 4 inches by 5 inches in the center). You will need to introduce a caged, laying queen, after the top split is queenless for 24 hours to increase acceptance and because virgins will get through the excluder. After 23 days just move the top hive body to the top of the lower unit, no newspaper needed. Many times those queens will go on laying together for a week or 2 and eventually one of them will be de-throned by the other.

    There's a really detailed layout in "The Hive and the Honey Bee" so you may want to check that and adjust it as you learn the management. Timing is everything as to when you start your 2 queen unit if you are going to be successful, you have to know your late summer bloom dates and work back from there. In a good year you will need a step ladder to harvest ( between 5 & 7 - 3/4"s on 2 deeps) and be certain the hive/hives are absolutely level. A guy named Paul Brown (I think he is a past Beekeeper of the year for both north and South Carolina) used to make "instant" 2 queen units by newspapering swarms into existing hives and had confirmed harvests of 480lbs a hive. He's got a video out there somewhere.

    Have fun and make a ton of honey!
    Last edited by Joel; 03-01-2013 at 01:14 PM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    I've done a number of 'double colony' hives. Not for producing a honeycrop or huge colony. Just to overwinter more queens for early nuc production the next spring. They do well, but be sure to have tight tolerences for the divider, or the bees will 'jump ship' to the stronger, more attractive queen sometime over the winter. One side will be empty, the other side packed.
    Dividers can shrink. Make your dividers ahead of time to allow for shrinkage. Clear silicone works wonders with any gaps that may open up. Heres a pic of some double colonies on half sized deeps:
    Here I just moved them from a five frame mini nuc to larger double box so they have room to grow for overwintering. I just left my last round of queens in the nucs. You can see the divider is run through a router to hold the frames on each side. Use a straight edge on top when stapleing in your divider to make sure there are no gaps.



    Each side has a seperate screened inner cover for easy access. Very small top entrance.



    After feeding for about 4 weeks:



    Clustered together and lightly insulated:



    I did 25 of these last year with good results. I'm doing about 45 this year. Probably will overwinter 150+ next year.( Although I may be forced to sell some bees next spring. Their growth is costing me a fortune in woodenware parts)

    The trick about 2 queen hives is you have to be ready for the population explosion. You may well have to move them into larger accomodations when it is not a convinent time to do so. Last winter it was fairly mild. I was moving some of the colonies in February. I am in Western Wa. Not typical.

    Hope this info helps. I have more details if anyone is interested.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mille...56954971040510
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-27-2013 at 03:44 PM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Quote Originally Posted by ryandebny View Post
    I'm planning on starting a 2 queen hive this year with packages....
    So my question is, at what point do I remove the divider and let the queens duke it out.
    I'm located in NYC.
    Why not let them both winter till spring? thats what we do
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Lauri, why did you choose to use half frames instead of an arrangement which would allow full sized frames to be used?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    I met a Ukrainian name Valdimir Ratushny that ran double queen hives with a divider positioned like above, the divider being two queen excluders. Each hive used one half of the hive, left or right, and had access to 10 deep frames. The theory, and practice, was that they shared heat and built up faster in the Ukrainian continental climate, with it's short spring. I built one, and yes, it did make twice the honey, but it should, there are twice the queens and twice the effort. The hard part was keeping both queens alive, because if one side failed. they could smell the other side's queen and not raise a new on. The other issue was working the hive. Much more confusing, and you had to be sure the front stayed in front, or the queens would meet.

    Crazy Roland

  17. #17
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    I'm rearing queens here. I like the half deep frames for that. Here are the mating nucs they usually are in, also divided but in a five frame nuc box that hangs at waist height on a fence line:






    I still have standard frames in my spring nucs. Some are left to grow, some used as mating nucs.
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-27-2013 at 07:54 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    There was a web site a few years ago that talked about Alaska beekeepers doing the 2 queen trick to get a jump on their short season and get their numbers built up by the start of their flow.. Not a lot of detail though. But it was an interesting idea.

    Here is a photo I ran across a few years ago that got me interested. Still yet to make one of these. COuld be an interesting experiment.

    Last edited by Lauri; 10-28-2013 at 08:00 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Here's my experiences of a two queen hive:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...fferent-breeds

    I reckon side by side in a long hive works better.
    Merge when they both have at least 3 frames of brood.
    I would move one of the queens to a Nuc about 6 weeks before the summer dearth.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: 2 queen hives

    Interesting Matthew. Ever thought about removing BOTH queens at that time after they populate this hive to near swarming numbers? They'd really pack in the honey with no brood to feed, make their own replacement queen, give the hive a brood break and reduce mites. After the flow, the older foragers will naturally die off and reduce a monster hive to managable numbers during a dearth. You could keep both queens in a small nuc setting and hold them. Harvest your honey, break up the hive and distribute to all three queens-now in thsie seperate hives. If the big hive was unsucessful in requeening itself, no matter. Just make two hives with the original 2 queens.

    I made some jars for honeycomb last year. I never tried them,( Too busy!) but this manipulation I describe above would be one way to get them to draw and fill them when most other hives would be reluctant to do so. Heres the old thread:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...jar-comb-honey

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mille...56954971040510

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