How, when and why should I requeen a honey bee colony?
These are the most common questions I get when it comes to introducing a new queen to a hive due to temperament problems, old queen that is not laying very much or just the loss of a queen.
Re-queening is done in two stages: first you have to remove the original queen. There is no point in introducing a queen unless you’ve actually removed a queen because they won’t accept the new queen. It takes at least two hours before the bees start to sense they are queenless and if we introduce a queen too quickly it lowers the chance that she will be accepted.
I prefer to do it in a two-stage process.
Inspect the hive and make sure there is no queen. If you find eggs, then you know there was a queens there within the last 2-3 days. You must remove the queen before introducing a new one!
After removing the queen or making sure the hive is queenless wait at least 24 hours before introducing a new caged queen.
After at least 24 hours, return to the hive and introduce the new queen. It is preferable to remove all the queen attendants from the cage, but if this is to much for you you may leave them. If you decide to remove the attendants be very careful not to damage the queen.
Although it should only take them 2 to 3 days to chew the candy in the cage and release the queen from it, I recommend waiting a full week before inspecting or disturbing the colony, otherwise you risk the queen being killed by the workers.
There are many tipes of queen cages. We have listed the most common ones for you.
Small wooden queen cage for shipping queens or introducing a queen into another established hive. Usually with 2 entrances. One covered with cork and candy and the other with just a cork plug.
Queen Cage with large opening. The queen cage features a tapered candy tube, large overall opening, and secure closing mechanism for ease in use.
The California mini queen cage is smaller than the 3-holed cage and will fit more readily between frames without damaging the comb.
These queen cages, also known as hair roller cages are made by Nicot and are used with the cupkit queen rearing system.
Other similar versions are available.