Monday, May 16, 2011


Hi, David and Sheri Burns here from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois.

LESSON 103: How To Introduce A New Queen
It can be a challenge to keep a hive queen-right. Sometimes queens are rejected even after they have been accepted. Perhaps the queen stops laying well, for example. But once the queen is no longer in the hive, the colony is queenless. Several things can happen to a queenless colony:
1) They can raise their own queen from a young larva but it can take up to 30 days for the new queen to begin laying. So you can lose up to a month of brood production.
2) If the colony fails to raise a queen, several laying workers can start laying infertile eggs which will be small drones raised in worker cells. Those laying workers will mimic a queen making it almost impossible to introduce a new queen. Thelytoky can also occur, which basically means that sometimes a colony can raise a queen from an unfertile egg laid by a laying worker. If your hive goes too long without a queen and without brood pheromone, some workers will poorly take over the queen’s job and you’ll see drones everywhere. So requeen fast!
3) They are suppose to raise their own queen and usually do a good job, but sometimes it does fail.
Now, here are several pointers on installing a new queen in an existing hive where the queen cannot be found.
1) Look for eggs. Make sure you do not have a laying queen.
2) If you do not have eggs, you could have a virgin queen or a mated queen that will start laying in a couple of days. Look through your hive after 6pm to spot virgin queens. Before 6pm they might be out on a mating flight.
3) Destroy all queen cells before installing a new queen.
4) Do not remove the candy from the candy plug.
5) Only remove the cork or plastic cap that is covering the candy.
6) Hang the cage in the center of the brood nest area.
7) Do not place the open screen into the comb or the bees cannot feed the queen through the screen nor can the queen’s pheromones spread throughout the colony.
8) Some beekeepers hang the cage so that the opening faces up so that dying attendant bees do not clog the exit hole.
9) Do not remove attendants from the queen cage.
10) Wait 5 days to examine the cage to make sure she has been released. If not, open the screen and release.
Often the queen cage is held in place between frames by sliding pressure between two frames to hold the wooden or plastic cage. However, you can attach a string or thin metal such as a Christmas tree ornament hanger and attach the other end to the top of a frame to suspend the cage. Just don’t kill the queen.
If the queen cage falls to the bottom of the hive, bees will quickly cover the cage. Use your curved in of your hive tool to pick it up, shake the bees off and re-install.

Thanks for joining us for another lesson!
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841


Borsos Méhészet said...

Just a tip if you want to make sure that the colony will accept the new queen so you can release her: take a blade of grass in your hand & try to wipe off the workers which cling to the cage. If they react agressively, or they hold on to the blade of grass the colony is not ready for the new queen.

Lanie said...

Very interesting. I appreciate all the wonderful information I find on your blog.Thanks so much!