Requeening a hive with an existing hive is relatively simple and easy once you get the hang of it. For colonies that have a queen a year or more older, April is a good time to go ahead and get it done. Queens are becoming more readily available, and the weather is more favorable for bees and beekeepers alike.
- Order a replacement queen, and once she has arrived alive and well, move to step
- Find the queen in your hive & remove her. See “Tips to Find a Queen” for help finding a queen.
- Wait a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 24 hours before installing the new queen.
- Ensuring the bees have access to the candy plug in the queen cage, (this is what they eat through to release the queen) insert the queen cage in between two frames of brood in the hive. Make sure the cage is inserted in a way that allows maximum access to the screened portion of the cage.
- Close the hive, and if there is not a current honey flow then be sure to feed the hive a gallon or two of syrup as they accept the new queen. This will increase the likelihood of acceptance.
- Wait 5-7 days and check back to ensure the queen was accepted.
Here's a video of me requeening a hive.
How to tell if a new queen was accepted
Requeening a hive is only half of the battle when it comes to getting a hive to accept a new queen! Ensuring she is accepted is critical. Keep in mind that it can take a new queen 2-3 days after being released to begin laying eggs, and even then, she may only have eggs on 1 frame in the hive.
Here are a few signs she WAS accepted:
- The bees seem characteristically calm & unagitated. No uncharacteristic running, loud buzzing, unusual aggression, etc.
- The queen cage is empty
- There are eggs in the hive
- There are no queen cells being raised
Evidence there is a queen laying - fresh eggs and developing larvae
Signs she WAS NOT accepted:
- The bees are uncharacteristically running, loudly buzzing, and unusually aggressive.
- The queen is still in the cage, or dead in the cage. If she is alive in the cage, poke a hole through the candy with a toothpick to help the bees release her.
- There are no eggs or larva in the hive
- There are multiple fresh queen cells with larva in them being raised
If the queen hasn't released - try poking a hole in the candy to help the bees release her
Multiple queen cups or cells
What to do if your queen wasn’t accepted
This is frustrating, but fairly common. If this happens to you, here is what to do:
- Look very carefully for eggs!
- It only takes the bees 12 days to raise a new queen using a 24-hour old larva. So, if you killed the old queen 13 days ago, and you saw queen cells in the hive, odds are the bees already have hatched out a few virgin queens, and you are better off letting them try to finish the process. Virgin queens usually go on a mating flight 5-7 days after hatching and begin laying 5-7 days after returning from the flight. So, start watching for eggs about 14 days after she hatches.
- If it has been less than 12 days since you killed the old queen, you can go through the hive, carefully look at each frame, wipe out any queen cells, then quickly get a new queen to replace the one which was not accepted. If you can’t get a new queen within a few days, it’s best to just let them finish raising their own queen
with the queen cells already in the hive. Since this process is slower, you may need to add a frame of brood from a stronger hive to keep their strength up.
By: Blake Shook