A natural beekeeper requeening? Seems like an un-natural act. And it is. But is a necessary one if a beekeeper wants to keep his equipment full of bees.
All colonies usually perish within three to five years. Along the way, they will throw off a few swarms. Maybe supercede the queen a couple of times. But in the end, like all living things, the colony dies. Then it’s brood comb and cavity are scavenged. And in the process it’s prepared for new occupation. That’s natures cleansing way.
Without intervention, naturally managed colonies will follow the same path. I’ve found out about this the hard way. Basically:
- my equipment was full of bees
- I didn’t want any more hives so didn’t split
- the natural queens had few problems
- they all got old and their colonies failed at about the same time
- I ended up with a few good hives and lots of empty equipment
It’s a better plan to routinely track the queens and replace them before they fail. I’ll be requeening at the end of the second season.
The best process is to follow the bees. They want to swarm in the spring. So, let them help solve your queen problems. Split a swarming hive. And let them raise a new queen.
Want a more proactive process? Split your worst colonies each spring and requeen them with cells reared from your best colonies.