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I checked in on one of my double nucs yesterday. It had 2 supercede cells on one frame. One had a larvae in it and the other I could not see inside well enough to tell. They are almost ready to be capped. Funny as the queen is laying eggs and the brood has a nice laying pattern. I think she may have quit laying for a few weeks post treatment with formic acid. Did that trigger supercede? Anyway what happens to the queen? Will they keep her until they know they have a healthy new laying queen? It seems late in the year for a new queen to get mated. Who kills her? Why does she not destroy the supercede cells? Do the workers keep her from doing so? Will she fight the emerging queens? I have heard that she can coexist with her daughter in the hive. How long? Then what happens? Will she swarm now? Seems like that would doom everyone. Will she swarmext spring? Should I destroy the supercedure cells or let nature take it's course?
 

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I let hives supercede, but this late I would destroy them here in Vt. However, in Tn I am not sure. Kamon Reynolds or another more local person would be the person to rely on. Hope someone from TN weighs in. J
 

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After a colony upset that results in brood cessation the workers often start supercedure. I have destroyed cells started after a late swarm is hived and the colony overwintered. Getting replacement queen would have been difficult and their own cells would have been very iffy.

Another few times I have destroyed cells and found that the workers had been making the right call. Early in the season, and as long as they dont become laying worker, and you have alternate brood to give them, a wrong call on your part is less consequential.

You could hedge your bets by pulling the queen off immediately into a small split and give yourself time to think it over. There would be very little chance of a queen getting mated and laying here in my climate.
 

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If you decide to destroy the cells, please check again few days later to see if they haven't started new ones, because if they did, then they know something about the queen that you don't...
 

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I think she may have quit laying for a few weeks post treatment with formic acid. Did that trigger supercede?
Yes it can.

Anyway what happens to the queen? Will they keep her until they know they have a healthy new laying queen?
Yes that is what they do. Therre are occasional but rare exceptions.

It seems late in the year for a new queen to get mated. Who kills her?
You mean who kills the old queen? The new queen does, after she is mated. She does not kill her outright as her sting is now used as an ovipositor. Instead she follows the old queen around, biting it and badgering it. The old queen gradually loses it's hair, it's wings, becomes weak and frail, and eventually dies.

Why does she not destroy the supercede cells? Do the workers keep her from doing so?
Yes, the workers prevent her.

Will she fight the emerging queens?
No

I have heard that she can coexist with her daughter in the hive. How long?
Varies but normally weeks to 2 or 3 months.

Then what happens?
The old queen dies.

Will she swarm now?
Highly unlikely

Will she swarmext spring?
That depends entirely on the condition of the hive. Bees like all living creatures are driven to reproduce, and any healthy hive given suitable circumstances will try to swarm.

Should I destroy the supercedure cells or let nature take it's course?
There is a small element of risk either way. If the cells hatch, the bees normally protect the queen from the resultant supersedure virgin, until after she is mated. If the virgin fails to mate, the virgin eventually disappears. However there is the odd rare case where the old queen is killed by the virgin prior to her mating. So me anyway, if I think there is a chance the supersedure queen will mate I will leave things. If I know there is no chance she will mate I will destroy the cells, but I don't get too worried if I don't, the huge majority of the time these things work out.

Formic acid does mess the bees up quite a bit, and unseasonal supercedure cells can be built after treatment, because the bees are messed up.
 

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Oldtimer, your answers are so helpful. I did not know the details of the process , and had just assumed that after the new superseding daughter emerges, she either immediately kills the new queen. I haven't found any information sources with such insight into the hive behavior. Do you keep an observation hive? If not, what are your sources of information, as I'd like to consult them!
 

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Do you keep an observation hive? If not, what are your sources of information, as I'd like to consult them!
I can't supply references for this, most of what I say here has not been learned by doing google searches, but by a lifetime of observing actual bees LOL.

Just a couple of things I didn't fully explain. Re the new queens stinger, it is used as a sting when she is a virgin, for despatching other queens. It does not become an ovipositor until after she mates.

Another thing, when there are 2 queens in the hive being the old one and the new one, they are often found on the same comb and quite near each other. This has lead to a popular belief that they coexist fine. But further observation will show it is a bit darker than that, if you watch long enough you may see the young queen getting on the old queens back and biting at it.They can be near each other, because the young queen is hunting the old one down.

And should add, there is so much to learn about bees that beekeepers keep learning new things all our lives. Long held beliefs can be found to be false. So I'm not claiming everything I say is correct, just, that's how it has seemed from what I have observed up to now. I'm always open to correction, and all of us should keep observing and forming our own views.
 

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Another thing, when there are 2 queens in the hive being the old one and the new one, they are often found on the same comb and quite near each other. This has lead to a popular belief that they coexist fine. But further observation will show it is a bit darker than that, if you watch long enough you may see the young queen getting on the old queens back and biting at it.They can be near each other, because the young queen is hunting the old one down.
This is very interesting, thank you for the insight! Until now I thought that the old queen would be killed or chased out of the hive by workers, I didn't realize it is her daughter that kills her or forces her out by making her life unbearable. So if they were separated by queen excluder, would they coexist much longer?
 

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Yes, a queen excluder will keep them seperated. The way I know that is from working for an outfit that two queened their hives, one queen in the bottom box, and one queen in the second to bottom box, the two boxes seperated by a single queen excluder. Queen losses were almost zero, they do not seem to be able to hurt each other through an excluder.
 

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I too found your information helpful, thanks OT! It amazes me that there is so much to learn about the biology of honey bees. I had left the fence open and went out to close it up in the dark, the hives were humming so loud it sounded like a factory.
 

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It amazes me that there is so much to learn about the biology of honey bees.
Agreed.

What is truly remarkable is that a bees brain is about the size of a fragment of dust, yet there is so much that bees do and need to do, temp control, etc etc.. Pound for pound, they must have one of the most efficient brain structures that exist.
 

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Yes, you can be stung by a mated queen, but it is very unusual for it to happen. The sting is what is called a modified ovipositor that has evolved from an ovipositor into a defensive weapon. I think the duct from which the egg emerges is not connected to the shaft of the sting, but comes out of the body at the base of the sting.

Here in the U.S.A. most researchers believe that it is the workers that finally remove the queen by withholding food. That the workers begin the process of eliminating the queen is probable because mated queens have never been seen stinging another mated queen.

I have seen mother and daughter queens co-exist for 5 weeks, they were always either on the same frame or an adjoining frame. Both mother and daughter were laying eggs. I have never personally seen aggression shown between mother and daughter, not saying it can't happen, but one would think it would happen before egg laying started.
 

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So can you be stung by a mated laying q
As a young guy I spent several years working for a full time queen breeder, a job that involved caging thousands of queens, all done with bare hands. (Can't do it with gloves on).

Never got stung (by a queen that is). Occasionally a queen would make a motion as if to sting, but for the most part they wouldn't even try, it's not their instinct. Virgins if you hold and squeeze one are more likely to give it a try, although it is still rare.
 
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