It was an intriguing idea: two queens, each confined to their own side of a hive, with the workers from both working cooperatively in brood care and honey production. And I think it still has potential. But there are some problems.
1. The Hardware
Having all that wood pressed up close trapped moisture, which damaged the hive ware. One box developed a crack in a knot, another developed a slight bow along the top edge. The closeness also provided a perfect place for tiny black ants to trap dirt and start a little home.
I had difficulty getting both sides to be even, in fact they never did line up along the top edges just right. And the queen excluder was a bit wider than the super above it, which meant the migratory covers covering half of each side didn’t fit tightly against the super. I tried filling the space with weather stripping, but it didn’t take long for the bees to chew it away.
Every inspection was a big disruption to both sides. It took some quick moving to get the side I didn’t want to inspect completely covered so that side’s queen couldn’t wander over to the other side. But a second migratory cover was too wide to cover the space, so I had to cut a piece of scrap wood.
The challenge of inspecting would be perfectly tolerable if both sides were calm. One side is quite calm. The other side is not. I dreaded having to go into their side, which meant I dreaded inspecting any of it at all. I’m keeping bees because I enjoy it. And when I don’t enjoy it, it becomes a chore, a task, something I want to avoid. So it was time to change that.
I’m not saying I won’t try this experiment again. I think I would enjoy it if both sides were calm. But the hardware issue needs to be examined before I use this setup again. The original double-queen hive involves a brood chamber at the bottom and another at the top with the shared supers between them and two queen excluders to confine the queens top and bottom. An upper entrance would certainly be required, otherwise the drones would be trapped and the workers unable to remove them when they died.
For now, the two hives have been separated. I will requeen the more defensive side in a couple of weeks.