Posts Tagged ‘installing queen’

Sometimes we talk about releasing a queen into a new hive. What we really mean is enabling the bees to release a queen that is in a queen cage. Here are the steps:

First, we put the queen cage (with a queen) inside a hive that needs a queen. For two days we seal the cage so that the bees cannot release her. We want the bees to gradually get used to her scent so that by the time she’s released they will accept her as their queen. If they do not accept her they will kill her upon her release.  After being sealed two days in her cage, we remove the queen from the hive.  It is usually covered with bees, but it’s hard to tell at this point if they are trying to feed her or trying to kill her. You can see that one end of the cage is filled with a white candy. We brush off some of the bees clinging to the cage to make sure the queen is still good to go.

Next we unseal the cage by removing the cork (or sometimes a piece of duct tape) that is at the candy end of the cage.

Removing the cork will allow the bees to eat through the candy and release the queen.  If the bees are not acting aggressively toward the queen, I will hasten the process by poking a small hole with a wire through the center of the candy, being careful not to nick the queen.

Then, I put the queen cage back into the hive, between two frames of brood. That is where the young “nurse bees” are usually hanging out (to care for the baby bees that emerge from the brood), and they will be friendlier to the emerging queen than the older field bees. I don’t have to worry about getting stung. By handling the queen cage my hand becomes covered with the queen’s scent making it practically invulnerable to bee stings. I usually give the bees some feed (sugar syrup) because they are more prone to accept the queen if they sense that there is a honey flow in progress.

Then I wait 5-7 days. It’s a long wait, but opening the hive too soon could doom the queen. I am thrilled when this is what I find at the end of my wait – a big, healthy queen already laying eggs and moving about the frames like she already owns the place. This is one our five Koehnen that we installed recently. Four of the five were accepted by their respective hive, and the fifth is still in the waiting period at the Coyote bee yard so we will check on her early next week. Cant wait!

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