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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What happens to the old queen? When a queen is supurceded, the workers in the hive build supercedure cups that the queen lays in, cells are nurtured capped and... When the first virgin hatches, does she kill the old queen? If so is it always the virgin that wins the battle? Do the workers kill her? Do the new and old queen coexist until the old queen completely fails? Something I have never seen written about.
 

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I know there is alot about this i do not know, but what i have learned is this:

You can tell alot about what is going on in a hive by the placement of queen cells.

1. A few well placed cells on the a frame of brood...not many in a hive is known as a supercedure cell. More than likely the workers realize their queen is failing in one way or another. Berfore the new queen starts to "pip" the workers kill the old queen, or the new queen will kill the old one if the workers did not. Once the new queen emergers, she goes around the frames and kills any queens in the cell. She does this by listening to the other cells "pipping", locates them and kills them before they emerge. Then the workers clean them up.

2. Cells and many of them along the top or along the bottom is an indication of swarming. And once this starts, a hive really stops working for the benifit of the hive and goes into a swarm mode. The old queen departs once she hears the "pipping from the new queen cells. Again if the queen can not fly, she and the virgin duke it out. Rarely does a swarm queen kill the other queen cells, thus you end up with "after swarms"

3. The last type of queen cell formation is still a supercedure formation, along the face of the frame, but it looks like a "bunch of Grapes". This is an indication of emergency supercedure. Basically the workers realize too late that the queen failed and race to make cells. When this is noted, look for disease, age of the old queen, some sort of problem in the hive. This queen in my experience rarely lasts long since the hive is somehow compromised. It is best to assess the hiive for soundness...maybe the queen died of old age...and make a decision on what to do. Either re queen with a good queen or shake out and let the healthy bees find a new home, or combine...not a fan of combining if i do not know the health of the hive. And lastly treat if i feel the hive has a good chance to make it. But the decision on what to to should be based on the health of the hive.
One of the things i have noted, is that a hive that is compromised rarely takes a new queen that we have introduced. I have had better success by introducing a frame of fresh eggs and larva. However that seems redundant when a hive is sick. I am of the opinion that if it can not survive on it's own with the hive maintence i do, then chuck it (shake out the bees and let the healthy find a new home..exception is AFB) and start again. I am not the type the keeps poor genetics...costly IMO.

These are my observations. Others might note other hive reasons and why it happens.
 

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>When the first virgin hatches, does she kill the old queen?

Maybe sometimes. Hard to say. Often there are two queens in the hive because she does not. A virgin queen is looking for virgins to kill. A laying queen isn't looking for anyone too kill...

> If so is it always the virgin that wins the battle?

There is no battle to speak of as far as I can tell. I've never seen a laying queen do battle. Virgins are looking for virgins to do battle with.

>Do the workers kill her?

Probably eventually they either starve her (as she can't feed herself) or throw her out. Often this is several months later.

> Do the new and old queen coexist until the old queen completely fails?

Often, yes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone! So, can a ripe queen cell be placed in a hive you want to requeen without finding and killing the old queen? Or will the workers destroy it?
 

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Thanks everyone! So, can a ripe queen cell be placed in a hive you want to requeen without finding and killing the old queen? Or will the workers destroy it?
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this old one.

I once had a beekeeper offer to buy several thousand queen cells from me at a fraction of the going rate, in order to requeen his colonies. I refused to cut my price, but I did ask him if he thought it would work so well, how come he wasn't willing to pay full price for the cells...

Years later I heard the old idea resurface (from someone who should have known better) but I asked Tom Seeley what he thought of it. He looked at me and said it wouldn't work often enough to make it worth the time and effort.

It never ceases to amaze me how much time and effort people will expend in order to save time and effort. Also, if they think a thing SHOULD work, they will ignore five people who say it won't and remember only the one that said it would.

plb
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
WOW PLB! Thats why it was phrased as a question. So, are you saying it is a waste of time requeening with queen cells. Or that the old queen must be found and killed before adding the cell?
 

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Queen cells should be introduced to queenlesss nucs only. Full size colonies are not the place to get queens mated. If the queen cell is not accepted or the queen is lost on the mating flight the whole hive can go down the drain.

Putting a queen cell in a top box, thinking it will take over the hive -- you might as well toss it into the woods.

plb
 

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Try a search on "queen cells" or "requeening" and "queen cells". There have been many discussions. Those who are using the method claim about an 80% success rate. I've only really done it when I had more queen cells than nucs and wanted to up number of hives with the genetics I wanted. From my observation I'd say 80% was a good guess.

Here is what G.M. Doolittle says about mating a queen in a queenright hive.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesdoolittle.htm#CHAPTER13
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesdoolittle.htm#APPENDIX
 

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Never say never in beekeeping...or always.

I've added cells to colonies, and had acceptable results. Timing is everything. The procedure must be done during a good honeyflow. In that case, it resembles supercedure. I've also had it fail miserably.

In Florida, requeening queenright colonies with cells is standard practice for many beekeepers. Many of those requeen this way twice a year.
 
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