Can a beehive really have two queens?

Imagine ⁢a ​kingdom where everything revolves‍ around the queen, her majesty, and her ability to reproduce. ​Now, imagine ​a scenario where there are two queens⁢ in the​ same kingdom. Sounds ⁤chaotic, right? That’s exactly⁢ what happens in a beehive when two queens emerge. Spoiler alert – it’s not a peaceful coexistence.

Typically, a beehive is ruled by a single queen. But⁣ if‌ her majesty starts to slack off, the worker bees take matters into their own hands. They create a new queen, leading to a brief⁢ period ​of dual queenship. However, this doesn’t last long. Either the workers assassinate the⁤ old queen, or a deadly ‌duel ensues between the ⁣queens. In ⁤some cases, the old queen abandons‌ the hive with a swarm of loyal followers.

So, under what circumstances do two ‌queens emerge in a hive, and how do the bees handle‍ this royal dilemma?

The Life of a Queen Bee

As we’ve ​established, a hive usually has one queen. As she ages, her ability to lay fertilized eggs declines, along with a decrease in her‍ “footprint pheromone.” ‍This‌ pheromone is ‌a signal to the worker bees that their ⁣queen ⁤is active and still in ⁤charge.

When the worker bees sense a drop⁣ in their⁢ queen’s performance, they initiate a royal succession plan to ensure the colony has a new queen for the future. They select one or more fertilized eggs and construct queen cells for them.

The⁤ worker bees continue to nourish the queen bee with royal jelly for about ⁢8⁤ to 9 days before sealing the queen ​cell. About a ‍week later, the new queen ‍bee⁢ emerges from her cell.

With the emergence of the⁢ new queen, ‌a royal showdown is inevitable. Unhatched queens are at risk of being eliminated by ⁤the rival queen, who will ⁤chew a hole in the wax queen cell and ‌sting the queen pupa to death.

The Intrigue of Two Queens in One Hive

Contrary to popular belief, ‍two queens can coexist in a single hive, albeit temporarily. This usually ⁣happens when‌ a supersedure⁣ cell ⁢hatches while the original queen⁤ is still alive. The virgin daughter hatches, mates‌ with ⁣the worker‌ bees, and lays eggs alongside ⁢her mother. This unusual situation can last for weeks or even months!

Recent research suggests that if the worker bees decide to temporarily tolerate‍ two queens, they will ensure the queens don’t kill each other. They often separate‌ them and keep‍ them in different parts of the hive.

However, once the new queen has laid enough eggs, the dynamics change. The worker bees may decide to assassinate the old queen themselves. No royal duel‍ required! This decision depends on‌ whether ⁢they consider the new ⁢queen superior to the old one.⁢ If not, they might​ just let the older queen eliminate the new one.

Another likely ⁢scenario is the old⁤ queen taking some of the hive’s population and forming ​a new colony where she remains the queen. This process is known as⁣ swarming. During swarming, ⁣the queen leaves⁣ the hive with a large number of worker ⁢bees, often temporarily clustering in a tree before finding a more permanent location​ for their new⁣ hive.

During the swarming process, worker bees scout for a suitable location for the new colony. Meanwhile, the original queen bee continues to lay eggs alongside her daughter in the original ⁤hive. The worker bees keep them separated to prevent a fight. Once the new hive is established,‍ the old queen departs, ⁤accompanied by some of the ⁤worker bees.

The Aftermath ‌of Two‍ Queens in​ One Hive

So, what ​happens next? How does the hive return to its natural state of having ‌a single ‌queen? There are three possible outcomes:

  1. A deadly duel. The two queens engage in a fight to the death, with the victor assuming the​ throne. ⁣The defeated queen is discarded from the hive by the worker bees.
  2. Swarming. The hive begins to‌ swarm to create more space. This usually happens when the original queen is performing well, but the hive is overcrowded. The⁣ worker‍ bees create‌ new queens to facilitate swarming.

Not all swarms survive. The ‍successful ⁢ones find a home in ⁤a tree or a wall cavity ‍of a building, where they build honeycombs to store resources.

  • Worker ‍bees⁣ assassinate the‌ queen. This usually ‍happens when⁢ the current queen is old and lays too many unfertilized eggs.

The workers create a new queen, and once she emerges and mates ‌successfully, they surround their⁣ old queen in a process known as ‘balling’. This heats up the queen and⁤ causes her ‌death. The dead queen’s body is then discarded at the entrance of the hive.

So, while two queen bees may occasionally coexist in a hive, it’s a temporary ‍and unstable situation.⁣ It disrupts the hive’s balance, which can be extremely dangerous and unnatural.

Why Does A Hive Only Have One Queen?

The queen’s exclusive​ status is all about genetics. A single ⁤queen ensures genetic purity, protecting the colony against natural selection. A genetically weak colony won’t survive long ⁤in the wild.

This is because they can’t protect⁤ themselves against diseases and environmental challenges. ​ Conversely, the queen mates with several different drone bees to promote genetic ⁤diversity within the colony.


While it’s possible for a ‌beehive to have more⁤ than one queen, it’s ⁢a rare and temporary occurrence. The established queen bees will either be superseded, killed by the worker bees, or the hive may swarm, typically with the older‌ queen leaving the hive ⁢with a large number of worker‌ bees.

Established queen bees also eliminate unhatched rival queens by stinging them⁢ while they are still in their cells. If a new queen emerges while the previous queen is still alive, a deadly duel⁢ is inevitable.

The key takeaway is that a hive will never have two queens ⁣for long. The ⁤worker bees will quickly devise a plan to restore the hive to its natural⁣ state!

Title: The Rare Phenomenon ⁤of Bimaternity: ‍Can a Beehive Truly Have Two Queens?

Considered one of the most fascinating aspects of nature, the social structure of a beehive is ⁣a captivating study subject. Intricately composed, a beehive is commonly ruled by a‌ single queen bee, surrounded by thousands of ⁢worker bees and drones. ​However, there exists an intriguing question – can a beehive truly have two queens?

The societal ⁣norms of a beehive are such that the existence of two queens appears counterintuitive. The role of the⁤ queen bee is pivotal, the single queen is entrusted with the responsibility of laying eggs ‌to ensure the continuance of the bee colony, while her pheromones maintain the harmony of the hive. This seems to indicate that the existence of two queens would create conflicting pheromones and lead⁣ to instability within the hive.

Despite this, a duality of​ leadership or ‘bimaternity’ ​within a⁢ beehive is not entirely impossible. Though such a phenomenon⁤ manifests in rarity, scientific observations and beekeeper anecdotes have, indeed, reported instances of two queens cohabitating in a single beehive.‌ Analyzing the circumstances and reasons that give rise to dual queens can illuminate this intriguing occurrence further.

A situation featuring two queens generally takes⁢ place during the‍ swarming season, which is a reproductive procedure for bees. ‍During this season, existing queen bees ⁣lay⁤ eggs that will ​mature into new queen​ bees, after which the hive essentially divides. The old queen leaves the hive along ​with a ‍swarm of worker ⁤bees and drones to‌ establish a​ new colony. The remaining worker bees in​ the old ‌hive continue to ​nurture and care for ​the ⁤new prospective queen bees.

At times, an exception to ⁣the natural course ⁤of swarming occurs‌ when the old queen doesn’t leave ‌the hive‌ or if a new queen emerges while⁢ the old‍ queen is still present. The two might coexist‍ briefly while the⁢ worker bees decide which queen to support. This decision is mostly based upon the queens’ ability to lay eggs; often, the queen ‍who ⁣can lay more eggs, especially‍ those ​that will grow into worker bees, is⁢ preferred.

The cohabitation of two queens may⁤ also occur post ‌a failed attempt⁣ at supersedure. Supersedure is the natural process where a new queen replaces an old or failing queen. If a new queen fails to ‌assert her dominance and the older queen still remains productive, ⁣the possibility​ of both queens cohabitating arises.

Notably, ⁣the⁢ survival‌ and coexistence of two queens in the ‌hive‍ also depend upon their tolerance of each other and the collective decisions made by the worker bee⁣ population.

In conclusion, while the presence of two‌ queen bees in a⁢ single hive contradicts the ingrained social⁤ structure, nature seems⁢ to allow for⁤ exceptions. It is during ​these‍ very exceptions that we ⁤capture glimpses into unique ⁣and rare occurrences in the fascinating world of bees. The cohabitation of two queens, though rare ‌and temporary,‍ underscores the complexities and⁤ adaptability inherent in a beehive’s ⁣communal system. ​Perhaps this capacity for adaptation provides a remarkable model for the ‍importance and ⁤survival value inherent in dynamic leadership structures themselves – a surprising lesson to learn from the humble bee.

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