Introducing A New Queen To A Hive

Introducing a new queen should be straight forward. There are a few simple rules to follow to make this an easy job.

If you have bought a Queen from a breeder or supplier and it just been delivered the first thing you need to do is take a quick peak and make sure she is alive.
In the cage there should be a number of worker bees to look after her. Some of them may be dead this is nothing to worry about it happens more often than not. They have been working hard regulating the temperature and looking after the Queen.
You then need to put a drop of water on the cage to give them all a well needed drink it also helps them to dissolve some of the candy that will also be in the cage as feed.

queen water cage1
You want to get the Queen in to the hive as soon as you possibly can the bees in the hive can then start to care for her. The cage is going to protect her from being killed by the colony until she is accepted and no longer seen as an invader. Not all Queens are accepted

The Queens acceptance depends on several factors:
– lack of nectar flow ( If no flow feed the hive 1:1 Syrup)
– If there is already a mated queen, virgin queen, queen cells the new queen will not be accepted.
– The presence of eggs and larvae improves the chance of acceptance.
– aggression of bees (an aggressive colony will accept the queen much less than a gentle one)

For a good acceptance chances, I recommend a 7 to 8 days queenless period the bees will now know they are hopelessly Queenless as long as you have removed any Queen cells
When they realize there is no chance of surviving, the bees will gladly accept the new queen.

You need to hang the Queen cage between two frames you can leave or remove the attendant bees after introducing thousands of queens both way i have found no difference at all.

Leave the cage hanging for a minimum of 48 hours after this time has passed then break away and remove the tab on the end of the queen cage to expose the fondant / candy to provide access for the bees to remove and release the Queen.

This is the bit that will greatly improve you acceptance of the new Queen…


After this time you can do a gentle inspection on a nice day and check to see if there are any eggs.

One note is If you notice that after the 48 hour period, the bees are clustered around the cage to get in the cage this could mean that something has been missed and there is a chance of acceptance are significantly lower. you need to search again for queen (virgin or not mated) or queen cells. If you don’t find anything leave the cage for another 48 hours before breaking the tab.
If they are still aggressive towards the queen in the cage after all this time there is a very very good chance there is already a queen in the hive.

If you are changing the race of a hive Buckfast to Carnica ( Or any Other) for example a lot of the time you will get supercedure cells this does not mean there is a problem with your new Queen just make sure you destroy these cells until they stop building them normally after the first round of new brood has emerged.


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