The banner photos shows two frames in our main observation hive: circled on the left is the original queen, and on the right a new queen.

There’s only supposed to be one queen, but now there’s two – how long can this last?

Our beekeeper recently checked the two observation hives, to see how they had fared during the winter months. Both appeared to have started brooding again, and looked healthy.

Queen bees typically have a lifespan of three or more years, but as they get older they become weaker. When the colony detects this, it sets about making a new queen.

In this hive, the original queen is from 2018. Our beekeeper suspects the new queen, who will be a daughter of the old queen, would have been established in late 2020. Both appeared to be laying.

A bee colony only wants one queen, so once there’s a new queen, it’s usually only a matter of time before the old queen is ‘removed’. Some beekeepers do this themselves; or, as in our case, the bees are left to do this themselves – though if the new queen is not considered satisfactory, the bees may decide to remove her instead.

If you’re interested in learning how to become a beekeeper, keep an eye on this blog – there may be courses available in the future here at the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre!