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Discussion Starter #1
G’day. I’m a hobby beekeeper from Australia. I’m still learning.
My colony’s queen is not a great performer. I was going to squish her and let them make a new one.

I read once that it is a good idea to keep the queen until the new one is mated and laying. I can’t remember where I read that.

Is this sound advice and if yes how exactly do you keep a queen while they make anew one?
 

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G'day Backyard. Yes, that is sound advice. If you do not have anywhere for her, put her and 4-5 attendants in a queen cage and place in a dark, warm place such as a closet. Feed a small drop of water daily as well as sugar water. Do not feed them honey which could be contaminated.
There are more ideal set ups, but many have kept a queen this way for as long as you need to. If the hive has adequate brood, you could put her in a small 2 frame nuc made of stores, capped brood and young bees. You will have to feed and let them expand or combine back with mother hive once the new queen is up and running. J
 

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It's Spring there, just move her with a frame of stores and brood to a 2 framer, or 5 frame with follower boards, or blank foundation, they will make a new one or 5 or 6.
 

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Hi Backyard Beekeeper, where about are you in Western Australia? It’s a pretty big state :). There are a few more sandgropers here.
 

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BIf she is a poor performer I would try to buy a new queen. Better genetics. But keep the old queen in a nuc box. When she lays up a frame move it into the main hive.
 

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I too would buy a new queen from a reputable breeder and requeen the colony.
Yep that would be my advice but not so easy in Western Australia as there are few breeders and allways a long wait list. We can't import from other states in Australia due to quarantine restrictions. Thats a small price to pay as because of the quarantine we do not have EFB or small hive beetle and a bunch of other pestsand diseases such as varoa. :)
 

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You are too right David. I think there are a couple new breeders that have popped up recently. Last year I ordered a queen from Beewise, and I'm still technically on a waiting list. They generally reserve their limited stock for their commercial clients, then if anything is left, the rest of us peasants get our share....

On the bright side, we backyarders mostly get our queens for free.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks all for the replies. Yes new queens are on a long wait list so not an option.

I took 3 frames of some brood pollen and nectar with the old queen and placed them in a nuc.
 

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My theory is that one advantage of letting the bees make their own queen rather than buy one, you get genetics from feral bees already adapted to the local climate.
 

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Correct Michael, we do not have varroa, nor we have any of the other grievances a queen can bring back.

As amateur beekeepers, most of the times we do not even have the option to buy a new queen on short notice here. Also of note, my best performing hive is the one with a feral mated queen. Can of course just be a coincidence, or 10 thousand other reasons.
 

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I took 3 frames of some brood pollen and nectar with the old queen and placed them in a nuc.
This was a good way to do it. Hopefully they will produce a good one for you, and you might find that the old queen will shape up as well.

BIf she is a poor performer I would try to buy a new queen. Better genetics. But keep the old queen in a nuc box. When she lays up a frame move it into the main hive.
I would not sweat the idea that you are using a "bad" queen to produce the new one. There are many reasons (other than genetics) why a particular queen could be either a good or poor perfomer, and they are not necessarily transferred to their offspring. There is also the unknown influence (good or bad) of the particular drone that will be the father of the new queen. And of the drones that will mate with the new queen.

I have given up buying queens, as the ones I produce seem to be indestinguishable in their performance from the purchased ones. Sure, they look different, but that has no meaning to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you. Very helpful comments.
The mother hive made 4 emergency cells and are all capped now. Is that a good number?

Should I let them be and let them fight it out or destroy all but one? I have seen conflicting advice in this.
 

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Let them fight it out. Suppose you destroy all but one cell and that cell turns out to be a dud? Dead hive. Now you could make a split with two of the cells and leave two in the hive. Doubles your chances of getting a mated queen to return. Read up on mating nucs. They are not resource intensive and can be really good insurance if things in the mother hive go south.
 

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Agree with JW, if they are on at least two frames, do a split, and double your chance of sucess. Otherwise, let them figure it out.
 
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