A tricky issue all beekeepers will run into at some point or another is knowing how to introduce a new queen bee into a hive. You cannot simply put a new queen in the hive without a proper introduction, or else the hive may grow confused and kill her. Introducing a queen takes skill and patience. Read along to learn the proper procedures and tools needed to accomplish the task.
Make Sure the Conditions Are Right
Before you go through the process of requeening your hive, you want to make sure the conditions are right for that undertaking. Obviously, there is no use in requeening a hive unless you have reason to think it is necessary.
Since queens produce smaller broods as they age, some beekeepers remove the original and introduce a new queen at the beginning of every year in hopes of maintaining the hive’s population. Other beekeepers replace their queens when the hive is too aggressive or when it is not producing enough honey, both of which are signs of a weak queen.
Place Queen in Beehive
When you order one of the queen bees for sale online, she will likely be delivered to you in a queen cage, which is box only a few inches in diameter and covered in mesh. The queen is held within the box by a cork and candy plug. Remove the cork and place the queen cage in the hive with the candy plug facing downward.
Leave Alone for a Week
The goal of the queen cage is to give bees the opportunity to get used to their new queen before they accept her into their hive. The bees will spend up to two days attempting to see their queen by eating through the candy plug.
During that time, the queen will release pheromones that will help her be accepted by the colony. You should only return to the colony after a week to 10 days. Although the bees have hopefully accepted their new queen by that time, they could still be stressed by the change. If you open your hive too quickly, they might attack you or the new queen.
You have followed all the steps for how to introduce a new queen bee into a hive and seven to 10 days have passed. Now it is time to inspect your hive to see if the queen has been accepted. First, check to make sure the queen cage is empty. Then, try to see if you can spot the queen.
If you cannot find her, look for signs of her acceptance, like freshly laid eggs. If the queen is hard at work and everything seems fine, it is time to remove the cage. If the queen was killed by her new hive, it is time to look for another replacement.