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You have a colony that has superceded their queen, and both mother and daughter remain in the hive.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