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How many queens can be in a honey bee colony?

Normally there is only one and she will battle with any other queen intruding or introduced into the hive in a stinging to the death duel. However, in large hives, particularly during the spring, beekeepers see more than one. Sometimes it is thought that the mother queen is being superseded by her daughter queen and eventually disappears. It may be that she duels with her daughter or that the workers eliminate her.

The other time more than one queen can be found in a hive, is during swarm preparations and just after swarming. Before the mother queen leaves with half of the hive, she is in the hive with her offspring in queen cells. If her departure is delayed by weather, somehow the workers keep her separate from the emerging daughter queen(s). Also, workers sometimes let multiple new queens emerge and keep them separate and alive long enough to let some depart in afterswarms.

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