We are often asked how to replace a queen and although we’ve tried many ways and often times are doing things more quickly than the average small-scale beekeeper, we figured it was time to write a blog post about it.
There are many ways you can introduce a new queen to a colony and we’ll talk about some of those ways, however, I’ll start by suggesting that a push in cage is the most effective for the best chance of acceptance and queen survival.
A push-in cage is a wire cage made of 8-mesh hardware cloth – it can be easily made into a rectangular shape of any dimension that allows your queen the ability to lay eggs while staying protected by the cage from the bees who may not be ready to welcome her into their colony. The worker bees can continue to feed her through the cage and within a few days, the queen’s pheromones are carried throughout the colony and the bees will have accepted her as their queen.
Other methods for introducing queens:
If you haven’t noticed, the biggest drive for queen acceptance is the scent given off by the queen. We’ve seen better luck with quick introduction when the queen is a sister of the previous queen for example. Each queen will smell unique and it’s important for the bees to accept her before she’s left on her own. If the bees do not want to accept a queen, you’ll see balling behavior where they create a large ball around the queen, heating her up (to death).
Best of luck!