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short and sweet: why would virgin queens go out with a swarm? Why would swarming workers attach to a virgin queen, since she's unproven, prone to being eaten by something, not finding her way back, etc, etc, etc, when they have a proven queen with them?

I seem to be having this situation with a swarm lately, and am kinda baffled by it.

Thx for any data and/or thoughts on it.
 

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From what I have experienced it seems the primary swarms leave with the old queen, then when the swarm cells emerge not all the cells get killed and then secondary swarms leave with virgin queens. I have also observed that after the primary swarm when a virgin queen prevails there might also appear to be a swarm but the bees eventually scatter and disperse which I think is the young queen leaving on orientation or mating flights and the swarm urge in the bees is so strong that they just follow her out until she gives them the slip.
 

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Having virgins in the prime swarm, along with the original queen of the colony, occurs when bad weather has delayed the prime swarm.

The virgins have matured, but the workers have held them prisoner, not allowing them to leave the queen cells. When the weather turns nice, and the swarm can leave, the virgins escape the cells when the swarm begins to leave. They leave with the swarm because they would rather not chance a fight. Workers in the swarm will join a virgin to form their own swarm when the virgin has begun to produce queen pheromone strong enough to attract them.

I have found as high as seven virgins along with the original mother queen in a prime swarm. They probably would have left with "their" workers before night or early the next day. This is often what causes the swarm to abscond after being hived.
 
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