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I've come across lots of information on the lifecycle of bees, but I cannot find the answer to my question.

If a beekeeper had, say 6 hives, would there be six queens (one per hive) or one (for the whole colony)? Maybe they would be considered six separate colonies, I'm not sure, but that would be a different question.

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Every beehive contains one colony, and every colony has one queen. (Of course there are exceptions, like if a queen dies or is about to be replaced, but I don't think that's what you're asking.)

A swarm is a specific thing, when the queen and part of a colony has taken off from the original colony to form a new one.

I think Wikipedia works well if you need more information on beekeeping terminology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beehive

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarming_(honey_bee)

Edit: To clarify, I only have experience of keeping European honey bees (Apis mellifera).

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is species specific no? I have some memory of some species having multiple queens per beehive, but could well be wrong - it could be some species of ants or wasps! $\endgroup$ – rg255 Sep 9 '16 at 10:57
  • $\begingroup$ @rg255 I don't know! I'm only familiar with keeping Apis mellifera. Hmm... Maybe someone else will show up and let us know. $\endgroup$ – picapica Sep 9 '16 at 11:13
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    $\begingroup$ @rg255 I found this: "in the Brazilian stingless bee Schwarziana quadripunctata, a single nest may have multiple queens or even dwarf queens, ready to replace a dominant queen in a case of sudden death." But they aren't honey bees. Might still be other species that do weird things, though. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_bee $\endgroup$ – picapica Sep 9 '16 at 12:19
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In honeybees, there is usually one queen per hive / colony. The original queen will leave with the swarm and leave numerous queen cells behind. Mostly one new virgin queen will hatch and kill the others or some of the worker bees kill the others by not letting them hatch or starving them, or breaking open the queen cells. However not infrequently there may be smaller cast swarms that leave a strong colony, each with one or sometimes numerous virgin queens. If a establishes mated mature queen is damaged, I'll or running out of sperm, the workers will make one or more new queens. These will have to be mated and it is well known that the old and new queen can co- exist peacefully for a period in the hive. We do not yet understand many factors influencing this. Reference: The Buzz About Bees by Prof Jurgen Tautz ( original text in German ) Springer books 2nd den 2009 ISBN 978-3-540-78727-3

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  • $\begingroup$ That's interesting about the old and new queen co-existing peacefully. There must be some sort of chemical signal given off by the old queen so the workers or new queen don't kill her. $\endgroup$ – Jude Jun 16 '17 at 17:12

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