Four years and still counting


Don’t let that faint green mark on this queen fool you as she is actually a yellow queen and therefore four years old. It’s a good age but by no means exceptional but it’s the journey myself and this queen have had that makes me look back on her life.

Spring 2012     She was born, created from a split from my TBH that was going through an AS.

Spring 2013      After overwintering well she was given to a friend who lost his TBH and so she had her first move and went on to give good service and a surplus of honey.

Spring 2014      Over wintered well but following a house move she and her colony in the TBH came back to me and mentioned in my post what goes up has to eventually come down.

Summer 2014     The colony was converted back into a national hive and went on to produce a good crop of honey and once again mentioned in a post converting a TBH back into a national framed hive.

Spring 2015     She was on the move again and given to another beekeeping friend to make up hive numbers after a couple of winter losses. The only problem was, my friend had langstroth hives and I use national so the colony and queen were converted into a langstroth with the use of a board converting the different shapes of the national and langstroth and the queen and bees moving up into the langstroth with a bailey comb change .  

Spring 2016     The colony didn’t over winter so great and as my friend had plenty of hives she offered me the queen back and she returned back once more in a langstroth nuc.

Summer 2016    Having built up nicely in the nuc I removed the queen and introduced her to a national hive that had a poor queen via an introduction cage and in no time she went on to fill the brood box with brood.

Late summer 2016    The first queen cells produced in four years and although not classic and four over two frames. I suspected supersedure and confirmed when I held my nerve and she was still in the hive after they were sealed. So I decided to remove her split the hive and queen cells into two strong nucs and introduce her into a third nuc to see if she will overwinter. She definitely moves a bit slower these days but still has a very impressive laying rate and brood pattern so if she does overwinter she will be top of the list as the queen I will use for next year’s queen rearing but if she fails or is superseded I won’t be disappointed and only grateful she has been such a great queen.

UPDATE 03/05/2017   

Finally got around to updating and as expected the old queen didn’t appear to make it through the winter. I say didn’t appear to make it, as there was a queen in the hive come the spring, that looked very similar but without any evidence of a green mark. This queen also had a fresh look to her and moved about the comb steady and much faster than the old queen.

So following the split after the supersedure cells the previous summer the bees failed to supersede her a 2nd time. I say failed as this queen was a drone layer and probably missed a window of opportunity to go on a mating flight.

It’s not all bad as the splits from the previous supersedure attempt has produced one queen that is showing almost the same traits as her mother so the good genetics can continue.  


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7 Responses to Four years and still counting

  1. What a life she has had.

  2. hencorner says:

    Wow! How amazing that such a small individual insect has contributed so much to your bee keeping over the last 4 years! What a lovely legacy she leaves….

    • Wasn’t until she came back to me for the second time I sat down and realised what she had been through and done. It would be lovely if she comes through the winter as five years would be something to celebrate.

  3. Emily Scott says:

    Nice that she has a little retirement home in one of your nucs, just the right size for an old lady.

  4. edbka says:

    Reblogged this on Ealing and District Beekeepers Association and commented:
    Ealing beekeeper Thomas Bickerdike tells us about a remarkable queen who took everything in her stride.

  5. Jochen says:

    Impossible not to fall in love with her!
    Would love to have one of her babies….
    Such a great story, Tom!!

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