Basic Queen Introduction
Basic Queen Introduction
On the face of it seems pretty basic, make the unit queenless, prepare the cage, and introduce the new cage into the brood nest. Then successful introduction is virtually a sure thing.
But I spend far too many hours on the phone each season talking about it for it to be that straight forward.
There are 3 reasons why we would be introducing a new Queen.
Re queening replacing an old Queen (annually or biannually), replacing a Queen you don't like (nasty, wrong race, performing badly…)
Emergency- you have found your colony Queenless
With re-queening and splitting, we are in control, and it is straightforward. There maybe some nervousness about finding the queen, making up the split, and managing drift in the split, but it is straightforward, and all most a sure thing. All it is a matter of making the unit Queenless, and introducing the new Queen straightaway, and leaving them alone be for a few days.
It is the emergency situations that generate the long phone calls
The calls usually start with someone calling to order a Queen because their hive has lost their Queen, and I stupidly ask if they are sure if the unit is Queenless, and then it goes from there. I try to do a diagnosis over the phone.
The ground we usually cover is trying to figure out- how long the colony has been Queenless; could there still be a virgin lurking; have laying workers developed. If it has been Queenless for a long time- is it worth trying to save what is left with a risky introduction when it could be just throwing good money after bad, and if it is decided to give the introduction a go, what can be done to manage the risk of a failed introduction, which usually means bringing in brood and bees from another hive.
Virgins should be on a commission; they create a lot of repeat business for me!
Whether the virgin resulted from a supersedure, swarming or emergency situation, it only takes the weather delaying the virgin's mating, and all the brood can have hatched before the virgin will have started to lay, and even without weather delays the timing will see the virgin usually just starting to lay just as the last of the brood from the old Queen hatches. You can only introduce a new queen into a colony that is Queenless, and virgin-less too!
That Golden Rule of Queenlessness refers to partial states as well. Introducing into a hive with well-started Queen cells is risky, and there is a chance they won't let her tear those cells down, and her early supersedure will result. That is why it is best to introduce the new Queen as soon a you have made the unit Queenless, if it has been several days Queenless, make sure you destroy any started cells before introducing the Queen.
Laying Workers are a breach of the Golden Rule as well. They develop when a colony has become hopelessly queenless, and I almost consider it a terminal state, and in general it is usually best to shake the bees out, and start again. Even if you bring in brood and bees from another hive, the introduction is still going to be risky.
Once we have the groundwork right with no breaches of the Golden Rule, then it is just a matter of preparing the cage, positioning it in the brood nest, and then leaving them alone for a few days. No Peeking. The first check will just be a quick check to see if she is laying, and remove the cage. There won't even be any number of eggs to be seen until day 4 or 5.
Preparing the Cage
With the cage up side down cut down both sides of the thin plastic archway at the end of the cage. (Be careful not to pry the cage open.)
Remove the thin plastic archway, exposing the end of the candy, so the bees in your hive can eat through to release the Queen.
Positioning the Cage
Separate 2 frames in the middle of the box and place the cage horizontally between them and sandwich them back to hold it in position (as in the photo above).
Make sure the bees in your hive can freely move over the cage and get at the open candy end of the cage.
Now leave them in peace for at least 5 days.