Effective Queen Introduction

by Mike Risk on June 12, 2012

Carniolan Breeder Queen

I was asked recently about the most effective way to introduce a valuable queen to a hive. I want to share a process with you I have always had success with.  I have found the most reliable way to introduce a new queen is to use a push in cage and introduce her in a nuc with two frames of young nurse bees.  This is the way I always introduce a valuable queen, I don’t want to lose.

Push in cage’s can be purchased from several bee supply companies,  here is one found at Brushy Mountain.   They can be home-made which is just as effective, using #8 hardware cloth.  Tom Glenn of Glenn Apiary’s has good instructions on the procedure, complete with drawings to show how you would make a introduction cage.

Push in cage made from number 8 hardware cloth.

I set up a four or five frame queenless nuc with two frames of young bees, with sealed and emerging brood.  I place another frame of honey on one of the sides and an empty frame for the excess bees to linger on and store nectar after the bees emerge next to the brood frames.

The brood frames should have a frame of emerging brood, with a few cells of honey, pollen and open cells for the queen to lay in, this is where you want to place the cage. Once the nuc is set up I let it set for a few hours, or overnight to allow them to realize they are queenless.

In the center of this picture you can see the young bees are chewing their way out of the cells to emerge. This is where you would want to place the push in cage.

I will place the queen where I want the cage to be and place the cage over her. Young bees will begin to emerge in the cage.  After feeding on the honey in the cells and sharing it with the queen, begin their first job in their life cycle of cleaning cells for the queen.  The mated queen will start laying her eggs which will stimulate the pheromone production in her body.  This will stabilize the hive and foster acceptance from the hive bees.

Feeding the nuc with a light syrup to simulate a honey flow will help with the introduction of a queen.  The bees in the hive get so involved in storing honey or syrup they pay little attention to what is happening in the brood nest.  Feeding not only helps with a push in cage, but when introducing a queen with a Benton or JZ BZ cage, or any other type of introduction cage.  Remember when starting a nuc you may have very few field bees and you will have to feed.

I have used this method for introducing queens to a different race of bees, and have always had success.  Normally a queen that is not of the same race is not well accepted.

Make sure you don’t accidently have a queen or queen cells in the nuc when making the introduction, or there will be failure.

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