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 is they are 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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