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I talked to a queen supplier today about ordering a queen because our hive is very strong and we were planning a split. He asked if I needed another queen to requeen the main hive. I was planning on requeening every other year, as suggested in many of the beekeeping books. He suggested I requeen every year and gave a few reasons. Everything he said made good sense but it seems a bit unnecessary considering how well our queen is doing. We've only inspected the hive once so far this year but from what we've seen she looks like she has plenty of vitality left. At only $15, the money isn't any issue for a hobbyist but it doesn't make sense to get rid of a good queen only to take our chances on the next one. It seems like the old "grass is always greener..." scenario. Should I requeen every year? Should I stick with the one I have as long as she still looks like the egg-laying machine she appears to be? If I don't requeen now should I do it this fall or next spring? We're planning another inspection this weekend, weather permitting. Obviously we'll be looking hard at the amount of eggs and brood we find. Any thoughts?
 

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The issues are these:

Pro:

A younger queen is less likely to swarm.

A younger queen is more likely to stay fertile.

If you use chemicals in your hives (Apistan, Checkmite etc.) the queen won't live as long and sometimes they fail or die sooner.

Con:

Costs money.

Requeening disrupts the hive.

If the current queen is a really good queen, the replacement may only be an average queen.

If you remove the old queen and let them requeen themselves at between two weeks before or just at the start of the flow it will actually increase your yeild due to less brood to care for during the flow.

I usually keep my good queens for more than a year. Sometimes two and sometimes three years. But then I use no chemicals and they often do well for that long. Also, I want to raise some daughters from the best ones so I hate to part with them.

IMO it works either way.
 

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If you have only a couple of hives, you are able to keep a sharp eye on the hive with the older queen. Do what makes you happy. Personally, if I had a fine queen that was long-lived I would want her daughter. But, that is just me.

I know that a lot of commercial beekeepers requeen every year for the sake of security. After all, SOME queens start to fail when they are a year old, and their livelihood rests on having good queens.

I have heard that quite a few queens are good in their second year, and a few queens can do the job when they are 3. Perhaps your queen will be too.

If I had 1000 hives, though, I imagine that replacing each queen when she showed signs of failing would mean re-queening a couple hundred hives each and every month. Including during the honey flow. OUCH!
 

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>Queens are much cheaper and easier to find in the fall.

Actullly they are easier to find (in the hive) in the spring ;) but I am begining to believe that requeening a good hive would be best done during the main flow.
 

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Why get rid of a perfectly good queen? She has already 'swarmed' when you split the hive. Is she failing or is she still laying well. Might even be a good breeder queen for later on in the season. No sense killing or replacing something that is working.
Dan
 

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>I'll sure I'll keep her. When should I "put her out to pasture" - this coming fall or next spring?

Brother Adams, who developed the Buckfast bees, used to put his best 2 year old queens in breeding nucs. He used their daughters as replacement queens.
 
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