Queens fighting

Signs or indications

When queens are inadequately introduced into a colony, the bees may kill the introduced individual. If a queen is added, or if one emerges from her queen cell when there is an existing queen, the two queens may fight. When fighting, queens attempt to sting their rival. When two or more virgin queens emerge, they might fight each other. On occasion, both queens might be injured in such queen fighting.


When a virgin queen emerges, she locates the queen cells of yet-to-emerge virgin queens and chews a hole in the side of the cell marking them for worker removal. In the event two virgin honey bee queens emerge simultaneously in a hive from their queen cells, they fight each other to the death. This may result in injury to a queen's wings or legs. This behavior occurs most often in swarming.

During the emergence of virgin queens and when queen cells are present, there might be queen piping and queen tooting—audible, unique sounds in a hive. We are unsure of their significance. Worker bees may imprison queens ready to emerge, to protect the queen cells in some instances from multiple emergence, but circumstances when they might do this behavior are unclear.

Most closely resembles

queen cell handling, multiple queens, swarming queen cells, emergency queen cells


“Queen Bees Battle to the Death”. Facebook, uploaded by Animal Planet, 28 August 2018. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=308758423003650

Honey bee. n.d. Queen Fighting. Honey bee. Accessed 2023. https://honeybee.drawwing.org/book/queen-fighting

“Battle Royale: Queen Bees Fighting”. YouTube, uploaded by Gees Bees Honey Company, 21 August 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybCmbWm9_Eg

“Queen Piping – calling for other queen bees to fight”. YouTube, uploaded by NZCUTR, 18 May 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaudlgBhOQQ

 Two virgin queens fighting; photo by Beespoke.info
Two virgin queens fighting; photo by Beespoke.info
 Dead queen; photo by Evan Fuller
Dead queen; photo by Evan Fuller