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Damaging Queens to Force Supercedure
How Not To Do It

The text below (in the white panel) was a post made by Murray McGregor to the Irish bee list discussion group.

I would not personally use the system, that Murray states, was practiced by the "old man". Nor would I recommend it... I also believe that Murray does not practice the method himself. But for the sake of completeness I include it here.

Murray informs me... "The old man in question, who lived locally to him, has now died (before Christmas 2001) and his bees have been disposed of to another beekeeper, so the damaging is at an end."

"Never allow the bees to make queens from what is commonly referred to as the 'emergency impulse' they rarely make quality queens. Always control the end product.

I of course accept that the last bit here is crucial, as you must select the good from the bad, but so far as I am aware almost all proper queen breeding systems that raise more than a tiny number of cells utilise the 'emergency impulse'.

OK, so the colony is specially prepared with all the correct age bees in abundance, and the correct age larvae, but they are emergency cells nonetheless.

This is not a gripe in any way as I do not think that a good emergency queen is necessarily in any way inferior to one raised by other methods. Back to David's last words. Quality control is everything, and allowing the earliest cell from an emergency crop to emerge simply allows one from a rather old larva to gain the upper hand. The cell must be well developed, from a young larva, and then you stand an excellent chance of having a queen of equal, or as near equal as to be of little practical difference, to a supercedure or swarm queen raised all the way from the egg to be a queen.

As an aside, on another list, I quoted the method used by an old timer to 'encourage' supercedure. It caused mayhem at the time and I was practically dragged out the back and shot for relating it, but before anyone jumps in and has a go at me, I do not do this, do not endorse doing it, but it seems to work well for this old guy despite what anyone else may think. Yes it does seem cruel.

Each spring he decides which of his colonies he wants to re queen, which turns out to be most of them. He does not like to go through a season having to do examinations as he is very old and not fit for it, so older queens, unless they are exceptional, all get the same treatment.

He catches them once the colony is into full ahead development and damages the queen a bit. Not in the real key areas which would hamper her laying, but removes or damages a leg or two, clips the wings, marks her if not marked already, puts the colony back together, and lets them get on with it.

The queen is now definitely imperfect, and although well able to continue laying at a great rate, the bees set out to commence supercedure. Come August time he almost invariably has a colony now headed by a young vigorous queen well set for the heather crop and wintering ahead. Apparently it does not always work, as the bees sometimes just keep the old queen going instead, but it does have a brutal simplicity to it.

As I said in another post, there are almost as many methods or variants as to how things should be done as there are beekeepers. To each his own, and I'll steal good ideas from anybody.

Murray McGregor"

Murray's text was lifted from the archives of [IBNewList] and is included here with his permission.

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Originated... 02 February 2002, Modified... 03 February 2002, Revised... 09 September 2003,

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