When bees consider their queen to be 'past it', they replace her by a process called supersedure. This entails making a new queen with the old one still present, and both queens often remain together in the hive for some time afterwards.

Supersedure usually occurs early or late in the season. The bees have to have a good queen in spring, to lay out the comb and build up the population for the nectar flow. In the autumn, they know they need a good queen to carry them through winter.

This video shows a typical supersedure cell, found in early April in a top bar hive in Devon, England.

For more on natural beekeepiong in top bar hives, see biobees.com

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