The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
icon of list

Plain Talk Beekeeping

The Replaceable Queen – Hers is a short, volatile life

- June 1, 2024 - James E. Tew - (excerpt)

The colony’s “queen kit”
The queen is the sparkplug for the colony’s engine. Harry Laidlaw, noted author and researcher, has described the honey bee queen as a biological kit. This colony kit produces chemicals (pheromones) and makes genetic contributions (eggs) to the colony. When the beekeeper replaces the “kit,” changes are being made in the manner the colony will operate for the next season — maybe longer.
I suspect that regular requeening is in the top three basic recommendations for good bee colony management. In my opinion those basic suggestions are: (1) Regularly, treat and control diseases and pests, (2) Add extra space to both brood and honey storage areas before it is needed, and (3) Requeen regularly. Regardless of the reasons, you would not have read to this point if you did not appreciate
the importance of queen management and replacement.

A tough job description
The queen normally bears the brunt of blame for bad things that happen in a colony. Obversely, when things go well, she gets credit for good times in the colony. Though it’s a “feast to famine” existence for the queen, I suppose she really is ultimately responsible for most of the good and bad things that happen within a colony. There are four broad reasons that requeening will be initiated. They are …