- Make sure you can see the comb when first looking through the hive. If there are too many bees it is easy to miss seeing any queen cells. “Pet” the bees or blow on them to move them out of the way and get a better look at the frame.
- If you miss one queen cell the requeening will likely fail.
- Always pinch the mated queen last. This allows you to correct yourself if you find something new while shaking bees off the frames.
- Once the hive is closed, make a note on the back of the lid with the date and “DQ” (de-queened).
Requeening is only done after successful de-queening. There is no point introducing a new queen unless the old queen has been removed because they will not accept the new queen.
Requeening is ideally done 1 day after de-queening the hive. This has the best success for requeening a hive. If we introduce a new queen too soon it lowers the chance she will be accepted. It is also best if the new mated queen is fresh out of the mating nuc and with no attendants.
The new queen is introduced in a California queen cage that has a candy tube at one end. This provides a slow, gradual release mechanism for the queen – without this the colony would kill her.
When introducing the new queen look for a frame of capped brood. We want to introduce the new queen next to a good solid frame of brood because we know the bees are going to be clustered there and the queen will get taken care of.
Take the queen cage, screen side down, and wiggle it back and forth a bit against the brood frame. This moves the bees out of the way. Then, gently push the cage into the comb so it is lodged into the surface of the comb. Place the cage on a slight tilt (candy side down).
Move the next frame over and gently wiggle it back and forth to move the bees out of the way and then push it up against the cage to firmly wedge the queen cage in place. This ensures there is no chance that the cage can fall down and be abandoned by the bees.
Close the hive and make a note on the back of the lid with the date and “Q intro” (queen introduced).
Replace the yellow queen tag on the front of the hive with the new queen’s information.
Do not disturb this colony for a week. If we open the colony too soon the bees may kill the new queen.
Once a week has passed you may open the hive to see if the new queen is accepted and laying. You are looking for eggs inside the hive, you don’t have to find the queen.
- If there are eggs, then everything is normal and you know your queen introduction has been successful. Close the hive and make a note on the back of the lid with the date and “Q” with a checkmark (queen accepted)
- If there are NO eggs, check for the queen. If there is no queen, you may need to requeen the colony again (this is unlikely – most of the time the queen is accepted). Close the hive and make a note on the back of the lid with the date and “Q X” (no queen)
If you have any questions, watch our “Requeening” YouTube video.
Paul Kelly, research and apiary manager, shows how to requeen a honey bee colony.
Download the Re-Queening-Protocol pdf file here: Requeening-Protocol