Two Queen wintering

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Staff member
Why- Just to see what happened.

In Autumn I had a failing queen, the colony was drone heavy and not so strong. I split it in three and got queen cells. Murphy rules, of course they all mated and returned successfully.
I had intended to merge them with one queen but I decided to see what size colony could successfully winter on their own resources.
I run 3/4 boxes. Having heard of wintering colonies one on top of the other to take advantage of shared heat, Two colonies were on the same base, the top one with a rear entrance.
Instead of a solid division between The 2 stack, I put a queen excluder and crown board with 4 x 1/2 inch holes to allow heat transfer and visiting rights for the workers. There were several frames of uncapped honey, which were shared out between them. They were closed for winter with 2 boxes each, with space to expand.
The other colony was a single box only.
They got a brood break while the cells hatched & mated. Oa/Gl strips, followed by Bayvarol.

My hives get a 2inch piece of polystyrene as a winter insulation.
We had a couple of cold snaps, with frosty mornings, but they only lasted a couple of weeks each. Bees flew most days- so our winter is not overly testing as far as warmth is concerned.

All 3 have come thru winter bursting with bees, packing drones into every space they can spare. The queens waved, they still have stores, and nectar is coming in.
Compared to some other hives, they look to have low varroa levels.

I'm pretty happy with the result.
I have just separated the 2 Queen tower into 2 independent colonies. I would try it again.


Staff member
Lesson learned.
When I separated the two colonies, I took most of the brood from the top colony, and a fair proportion of the bees and left the rest to merge.
Within a couple of weeks they started swarm preparations, and I retrieved a swarm on Wednesday. Removed 10+ swarm cells. I know theres at least one virgin in there. Fingers crossed for some suitable mating weather over the next couple of weeks.

I'm assuming the separation of the colonies will have reduced the level of Queen pheromones- and along with a healthy population, triggered swarming.

Any alternate opinions?


Founder Member
Semi Commercial
Far as swarming goes, I had to give up on running 2 queen hives when I moved to Auckland, it was impossible to stop them swarming.

The relationship between swarming and 2 queen hives is area dependent.
its not something i can answer. i don't know anyone up here that runs dual queens, it tends to be a southern thing.
i only do it as a last ditch effort to save a hive. they usually don't get split apart until swarming season is over.

i would be inclined to treat it like doing a half split. move one hive aside and put all the brood in that hive. so old hive gets no brood but has queen. new hive has all brood but minimal bees.
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