Natural Supersedure of Queens in Honey Bee Colonies
Definition and reasons of supersedure
Supersedure, as it relates to apiculture, is the bees’ way of replacing an existing queen with a new queen in the same hive, without intervention by the beekeeper. Thus supersedure is nature’s way of re-queening. The queen supersedure process differs from that of swarming which is associated with reproduction, and in which one or more queens are raised and the old queen leaves the colony with a swarm, leaving the new queen with the hive. No new colony is formed when colonies supersede their queen. Supersedure queens are raised out of need; swarm queens result from a physiological urge in the colony.
Supersedure queens are raised when the bees are not satisfied with the performance of the current queen and decide to replace her. A number of reasons observed, might account for this, such as physical condition of the queen (missing a leg or wing), old age, disease such as nosema or depleted spermatheca. It can also be surmised, that bees replace a queen in order to exact or correct genetic changes. This is the subject matter of our current publication.