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What in the world?!?!?!?

1859 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Michael Palmer
On 6-22-14, when doing a hive inspection, what I found shocked puzzled me. The “Russian” hive had two Deep Boxes and one Medium Super on top. I had noticed lately that the hive was slow, not as active as all of my others. It had been a spring split this year, where a new Queen was raised up by the hive, and everything started strong. Then it seemed to have died down; no more brood, larvae, or eggs. I could not find the new queen, and there was no more evidence of a queen, and no eggs from which to grow one.

I was able to purchase a marked Carniolan Queen, and she was easily installed her on 5-22-14, and they accepted (One month ago). When I started the inspection this afternoon, there was some capped brood, and drone brood, in the top Medium Super. As I went through it frame by frame, I found an unmarked Queen on one of the frames. How could that be? I thought, could the Carniolan Queen have died and been replaced already? I went ahead and marked her, and I set the frame back in the Medium Super, and removed box off the hive with the queen still inside the super.

Then I checked the upper Deep; nothing there; just empty drawn comb and a ****roach. Several bees were moving through it, but there was nothing in any cell on any frame. My thought was that something must be wrong with that deep, so I pulled it off and set it aside.

There was some activity in the bottom deep, and while inspecting it, I found a marked Queen. It appeared to be the Carniolan Queen I had installed a month ago. She was laying brood in the bottom Deep. I double checked, and sure enough, there were two queens working this hive with a no-mans-land Deep Box separating the two. It must have served as a boundary.

Now I have a few questions:
1. Where did the top unmarked Queen come from? The hive was obviously Queenless at one point.
2. Even if it wasn’t, why would the hive accept the new Carniolan Queen with their own still in place?
3. All the bees exiting and entering the hive used the same bottom entrance, but which Queen were they actually loyal too?
4. Could the dysfunction of the colony have been due to the confusion in the population of who to serve? They all had to pass through the bottom Deep to get to the top Medium Super.
5. Why didn’t some of the workers take exception and kill one Queen or the other?
6. Why didn’t the Queens fight for rule of the hive, or why didn’t one just leave?
7. Has anyone seen this happen before?

I did split the hive at this point – obviously. Here are the two Queen Ladies;

Queen in the top Super - Bee Beehive Honeycomb Pattern Insect
Queen in the Bottom Deep - Honeycomb Bee Beehive Pattern Honeybee
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Cool I always wondered it that was Possible.
any chance you missed a cell and a virgin took to the nest as you introduced the next queen? Lots of space in the hive for them to hide from one another... Two queen hive, you should of simply placed an excluder between the boxes to run them as such. Their combined effort can be quite remarkable
Ian, how long can you run a double queen hive for, though?
I ran 50 colonies through my excluder box in 2004. Of the 50, 17 had multiple queens.
In a roundabout way, I think this might have happened to me. But instead of a new queen, I had recombined the hives with the old queen. Suddenly I see eggs and brood in the top with a honey super in between and two deeps on the bottom.
Ian, how long can you run a double queen hive for, though?
I dont run double queen full size hives but know a guy that does, and he will recombine the hives during the summer flows, and let the hive decide which queen to take into winter.
Bee Whisperer apparently you did not send your bees to college so they could read in the bee books that they are not supposed to have two queens. Joking aside I have seen mother daughter pairs occasionally. They stayed together for several weeks before the mother disappeared.
Interesting that it is obviously more common than I thought.

Michael Palmer, can you elaborate a little on your excluder box? Sounds intriguing.
A good hive body with a wood bound excluder nailed on the bottom.
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