Introducing a new queen bee can be ticklish enough – especially if she has spent a few days in the post and has gone off lay as a result. Here’s the best way to introduce a queen that’s been in the post.
Dequeen 7 days in advance of the new queen’s arrival;
If you have colony you think is queenless – you need to be sure. Add in a test frame with young larvae – not just eggs – they will eat alien eggs but will adopt alien larvae and draw queen cells from them if they are queenless. If they do not draw queen cells they are not queenless.
One Week Later
Either way – 7 days later, go carefully through the colony again and knock off all of the queen cells.
- Gently shake the bees off so you can be sure you them all – if you miss even one crappy little thing they will not accept the new queen;
- Your new queen will be accompanied by an escort of worker bees. Let these girls out of the cage – your queen must go alone into her new home. In the cage that is!
- Make sure the candy cavity is plugged with candy.
- Remove the protective plastic gate so the bees can chew their way through the candy to get to their queen;
- Suspend the cage from a frame near the middle of the brood nest – where the bees would expect to find her. Most postal cages are equipped with a little loop so you can do something imaginative with a matchstick or some local twiggery;
Leave the bees seriously alone for a week – then:
- After a week go carefully through the colony.
- Look out for the queen – she should have been marked by your supplier. If you can’t find the queen – look for eggs, as long as there are eggs all is well; close it up and leave it alone.
- Look for queen cells and don’t panic if there are some. Sometimes the bees mistake a queen newly coming into lay for a queen going out of lay and prepare to supersede. Just knock the cells off and as long as you have seen eggs – walk away;
Occasionally, the bees have not released the queen – perhaps the candy is too hard, the queen is off lay or they don’t understand the principle! Carefully release her – they should have got used to her after a week and usually she just runs down between the frames to the manner born.
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