Vermont Beekeepers Association

Questions with Mike Palmer


Mike Palmer Answers Your Questions

Mike Palmer keeps bees at French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans. We are grateful that he has agreed to answer questions on beekeeping in Vermont, his workload permitting.

VBA Members: Ask Mike your question with this form. (Requires you to login to the site.) We'll post the best questions and answers here as regularly as possible. (Personal responses to questions will not be possible.) livemarks

Too Many Queens?

William Lesko writes:

On a routine check of a hive with two brood boxes and no evidence of preswarm activity a queen was spotted on frame two. With good brood pattern and on frame three another queen. What would you do?

You have a colony that has superceded their queen, and both mother and daughter remain in the hive. Although we are told that each of our honeybee colonies has only one queen, colonies with multiple queens isn't a rare event.

In 2004 I requeened 50 colonies by making a nucleus colony from each top brood box, and installing a caged queen. Three weeks later, the old queen was removed and the nuc was united with the now queenless parent colony. Of those 50 colonies, 17, or 30% had multiple queens. Think of it. 30%. What does that mean when re-queen a honeybee colony? When removing the old queen in preparation for re-queening, don't stop searching once you've found the first queen.

So now that you have a multiple queen colony what should you do? Nothing. The bees will sort things out.

- Mike