I've gathered/heard that also, but who knows for sure how it's done???I have seen comments many times that cells in an incubator will all be destroyed if one virgin gets loose. It may seem like a lot of chewing but from what I have gathered one virgin will devote the time to get it done.
Well, I have witnessed the aftermath. I have seen what a virgin can do in an active hive in a few hours and I have seen what she can do in the same time frame all alone and there isn't a comparison. Having lost about 150 beautiful cells to virgins in the past 48 hours it's a subject near and dear to my heart.I "hear" you Jim, and they are my assumptions also. I would really just like to know from someone who knows (witnessed it)....
. -- Virgin queens selectively destroy fully matured queen cells in the honeybee Apis mellifera L. Insect. Soc. 51 (2004) 253–258According to preliminary data obtained from close observation of the observation hive, virgin queens spent 35.1 min in biting the sidewall of queen cells with a pupa and a total of 63.5 min on average (n = 5; Sonezaki, 1988) for the whole destruction, from the encounter to leaving the queen cell. The selective queen cell destruction probably contributes to sav- ing time that might be spent in destroying younger queen cells for use instead in searching for and destroying the fully matured queen cells. The results suggest that the pre-emergence queen cells may emit some stimuli by which virgin queens recognize them. Some reports suggest that this may be a chemical stim- ulus. Queen cells emit queen-pheromone-like chemicals (Boch, 1979; Free and Ferguson, 1982), which may reach the highest level just before emergence
-- Three mechanisms of queen elimination in swarming honey bee colonies. Apidologie 36 (2005) 461–474Sometimes, queens attacking cells do not sting the occupant, instead departing after having only chewed a hole in the cell. Stinging occurs most often when a cell’s occupant has pupated and is ready to emerge. Workers near a cell that is under attack either ignore the visiting queen or enlarge the hole that she chews in the wall of the cell. The workers eventually tear down queen cells that are damaged by emerged queens and dispose of the queen pupae that occupied them.