What is the best way to introduce a queen into a colony?

Bee Health May 14, 2012|Print

It is best to introduce a new queen into a small colony, such as a recent divide or nuc (nucleus colony). Young bees accept new queens more readily than old bees, so it is best to make a divide, allow the old foragers to return to the parent colony and let the divide sit queenless for 24 hours. A caged, new queen is introduced into the queenless colony. The queen should remain in the cage for 3 days before she is released in the colony so that the bees in the colony can adjust to her pheromones and vice versa. To ensure that the bees do not eat through the candy plug in the cage and release the queen too quickly, prevent access to the candy with a cork and release the queen from the cage yourself after 3 days by letting her walk out onto a comb. After 10-14 days, check the laying pattern of the new queen for eggs, larvae and sealed brood. When the new queen is laying eggs, the divide may be combined with a larger colony. Remove the queen in the large colony and let it sit queenless for 24 hours. Put a sheet of newspaper, over the top brood box of large colony, make some small slits in the newspaper and add the divide on top of it. Check the colony in 5-7 days to make sure the bees have chewed their way through the paper and combined successfully. Also, check for queen cells and for eggs and larvae. This is a good way to requeen large colonies in the fall. - Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota