This time of year it’s possible to find two queens in your colonies, don’t panic, this is often caused by a silent supersedure. That’s where the bees decide that an old queen or under performing queen gets dethroned by the worker bees. So I guess bee colones are more of a democracy rather than a monarchy than you would think.
A blog from our national bee society mentioned this issue recently. I think this is what happened to Sif last year. I was already not very satisfied with the queen but didn’t get to replace her. Then I found an empty queen cell in early fall. I didn’t know what to do, but already suspected a silent supersedure. As I hadn’t marked my queen, I had no way of knowing.
What I don’t understand is why the new queen doesn’t eliminate the old queen immediately, and if she doesn’t what happens to the old queen? Does the new queen kill the old queen later, after a nuptial flight? Do the worker bees eliminate the old queen? Does the old queen leave of her own accord? I don’t know, although the last option seems unlikely to me. Anyone have any idea?