So the other day we made an interesting discovery which in the 16 years of beekeeping we have never seen before. As we began running a routine checkup of one of our nucs, we noticed several unusual things right away.
First of all, the green dotted queen was hanging out on the outside frame and was moving very slowly. We thought, “oh no…she’s not doing so well. Maybe she got squashed a little by us?”
But the real surprise came when my mom discovered a second queen on the third frame she pulled out. There she was…still unmarked. A young, golden and fat fast moving queen eager to proceed with her biological duties.
Naturally we felt a tinge of guilt towards the green queen because it was obvious that the new queen was running the hive or if not, she sure gave that impression. What could we do? Well, there were only two choices:
a) Nothing. The two queens will coexist until the new queen leaves for her maiden flight. Upon her return, the stronger queen (most often the new one) will kill the weaker one. Or, one queen will fly away leaving the nuc with half of the honey and worker bees (aka a swarm).
b) We could take one queen out and have an immediate new nuc.
In either case, it’s not so bad to have a “two queen problem.” As much as I wanted to see which queen would actually win the fight, I did feel some loyalty towards the green queen and didn’t want to lose any honey/bees. So we decided to take out the green queen and transfered her to the littlest white mating nuc.
Three days later, the green queen seemed much better. She was a little faster again. Apparently she had recovered from the shock of a potential threat to her royalty as the one and only. We once tried to retire a queen by setting her free but the poor queen was only programmed to do one thing and so she continued laying eggs even outside of the hive. I don’t know if a natural death exists for queens. In any case, no hive will keep a queen that is sick or not functioning that well.