Supersedure is the natural way of re-queening. The bees replace an existing queen with a new queen in the same hive. There are many reasons that this can happen, some of the most common reasons are:
- the queen is old
- the queen is not laying eggs properly
- the queen may be sick
- the queen is physically damaged
- the queen is not producing enough pheromones anymore
Supersedure cells will often be in the middle of a frame, not at the bottom of a frame like you would see with swarming.
In our case we believe the bees sensed the queen was getting old (she is over a year old now) and decided they needed to replace her with a younger queen.
It was truly a sad sight to see our good old queen right next to the cells of the queens that would eventually take her place.
Allowing the bees to produce their own queen is usually not successful in our experience. This is due to the fact that we don’t have enough hives to produce a really good drone pool and the chances of the queen mating with an Africanized drone are possible too. So this hive will either be re-queened with a hygienic queen that we will buy from a local supplier or we will combine it with another hive.
I have read they are trying to breed extra hygienic bees that will reduce the occurrence of varroa. How good would that be if they ever succeeded.
Yes, that is true. The queens we are using are VSH (varroa sensitive hygiene). These bees tend to keep the mite populations low in the hive, thus not requiring any pesticide treatment.