Requeening by bees in honeybee colonies (2008)
Anatoliy Pylypenko

Modern successes in queen breeding using instrumental insemination allow us to forget about requeening by bees for professional beekeepers. And yet, requeening by bees has natural advantages.

The basic advantage is that at the same time in one colony, two queens lay eggs during the process of the requeening. And this inner state of the bee colony can be kept for more than four months of the active period of their lifetime. Even half a century ago, hypotheses were put forward about the keeping of two-queen colonies. In practical beekeeping the basic source of substitution of queens was natural swarming of colonies.

More than 95 % of the beekeeping scientists up to the end of 20th century were sure that swarming was an instinct. With such an approach to the theory of swarming, there was no opportunity to give a scientifically grounded explanation to such a modest phenomenon as requeening by bees.

The main reason of replacement by a requeening is that the colony’s present queen does not satisfy the natural needs of the colony. Bees try to replace a queen with damage to some parts of her body (i.e. a leg, a wing) or due to unsatisfactory egg laying; the maximum number of eggs laid does not exceed 1 thousand per day.

The requeening by bees is impossible when a bee colony is in a pre-swarming state 20-25 days prior to exit of a swarm.

The requeening by bees does not occur, if the colony is under the strong influence of unfavourable external functions or the state of the inside the colony has an essential deviation from the norm.

Nowadays beekeepers can provide themselves with enough information to successfully create the right conditions for requeening by bees.

Practically, requeening by bees is interesting for amateurs, who look after no more than 10 colonies. Beekeeping is a rest from the basic work for them. Hobby-beekeepers receive a huge pleasure from caring for colonies in such conditions which are optimum for the given place. Because the amateur has a small quantity of colonies he knows each queen by sight - colour of her eyes and abdomen, state of her wings and legs.

In a word, he tries to keep each colony in ideal conditions. The bees give him a maximum quantity of bee products in return for his attention.

In principal, professional beekeepers try to obtain the maximum quantity of production too, but they have other criteria of efficiency, doing a minimum of work and getting a maximum of products.

Using the accumulated beekeeping experience in search of the technology of keeping two-queen colonies. I was successful in creating the reliable technology for requeening by bees.

First it is necessary to know precisely, which queen needs substituting. If a queen is not pleasant to bees, they start to fray her wings and build up from 1 to 3 cups outside of broodnest or on one of its sides. Temporarily, bees limit a queen in her egg laying, filling a part of the broodnest cells with sprayed nectar and fresh pollen. In this case it is necessary to cut off the most part of one of her wings, i.e. to show the bees that they should replace a queen.

It is very important, that colony is not exposed to any essential irritation of external and internal influence during the requeening by bees.

As to state within the hive, it is necessary to pay special attention to:

  1. Food stores of colony should not be less than for 20 days;
  2. The quantity of bees in swarming state should not exceed 10 % from the total mass of bees in a colony;
  3. The colony must not be crowded;
  4. Make sure there is not an absence of free cells for egg laying by a queen;
  5. You must provide a separate exit for a young queen that she can leave a hive safely by eluding the broodnest;
  6. You must avoid a strong irritation of bees, working in the colony.

One of the main sources of external irritation is the opportunity of the colony providing for itself by the attraction of a minimal honeyflow.

The period of full absence of available nectar and pollen should not exceed 6 consecutive days. If this occurs, it is necessary to provide additional emergency feeding.

The fundamental rules of beekeeping are well-known to everybody and we must follow them to the letter during requeening by bees
Anatoliy Pylypenko