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I am a new bee keeping, just entering my second year. I currently have two hives (one I bought as a nuc last spring; the other a split off of that nuc). Assuming both hives make it through winter, and a few other incidentals fall into place, my plan is to split them in the spring to get 4 hives total - which is as big as I think I want my apiary to be.

The company that sold me my nuc recommended that I should replace the nuc's queen near the end of her second summer (e.g. end of this summer). My original plan was to purchase a replacement queen for this purpose, as I didn't want to interrupt the growth and productivity of this hive during the season where they are laying down winter stores - especially given that I'll have weakened the hive already with a spring split. One thing that I don't like about that idea is that my current queen is an excellent bee - her hive is docile, mite levels stayed under control (granted, I was monitoring & treating, but I didn't get a huge increase at the end of summer), I've had no disease issues, and they are good producers of wax and honey. I don't want to risk diluting out her genetics.

I've been following this thread over the the bee breeding sub-forum with some interest, as it seems to be an ideal way to replace my queen without a brood break. The short version is that you induce a supersedure by clipping one of the queens antenna. This will induce supersedure, but while the new queen is developing and is out on her mating flight, the old queen keeps on laying. I've not heard of this method before, and my google searches have not turned up anything useful on the method. So I was hoping that people here could answer some questions:

  1. How reliable is this method in inducing a supersedure?
  2. How much of the antenna must be removed?
  3. If the new queen fails to return from her mating flight, will the hive simply start a new round of supersedure cells?
  4. Is there really minimal/no interruption to brood rearing when using this method?

Of course, any other suggestions are welcome.
 

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I have not tried removing an antenna. I have had queens with a bad back leg who laid for at least a couple of years without being replaced. I have my doubts that removing one antenna would matter. According to Huber removing both will result in the queen going insane and running out of the hive and dying...
 

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I don't know what others think, but I'd say that clipping-off an antenna - arguably the most sensitive sense organ the bee possesses - is bl##dy cruel. If you really must clip-off something, then make it a leg - but preferably, don't clip-off anything at all - there are other, far more humane ways of simulating supersedure.
LJ
 

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I dont remember reading of the antennae clipping method but apparently removing a front leg will cause supercedure but not many people have been brave enough to put their name to the practice! Using the double screen division board under good hive conditions makes some excellent queens while not being too disruptive.

As M. Bush says on the other thread, the eggs are not laid in a purpose built queen cup but the bees still do the egg selection and from my experience do not start queen rearing on aged larvae. From my timing of cell capping it appears they start cell development from larvae emerging from eggs at the time of separation. They get fed as queens from the get go! Snelgrove advises to cull any cell capped by the 4 th day to ensure no partially caste queens are reared. I dont bother checking any more since I have never found it to happen.

Undoubtedly people have made poor queens by this process by starting it on poor stores conditions or too early for sufficient numbers of mature drones to complete the process. I have seen hive conditions get rather grim before the workers manage to instigate supercedure. I would put such a resulting queen up against one produced from a well timed division board installation.
 

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Why not remove the existing queen to a small nuc, let them raise s new queen, and while they are you can add any frames of brood the old queen lays up for you. Just an idea good luck
 
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