Skip to content


Deciding if a hive needs to be requeened and finding the queen can be the most challenging aspect of requeening. Once those two things are out of the way, the rest is easy!

  1. Order a replacement queen bee, and once she has arrived alive and well, move to step 2.
  2. Find and remove the old queen. I recommend removing the old queen completely from the hive so that her pheromones do not linger.
  3. The best practice is to wait a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 24 hours before installing the new queen. However, installing the new queen in the cage immediately after removing the old queen is acceptable as well. The maximum amount of 24 hours is because new queen cells will quickly be raised.
  4. 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. Try to avoid crushing honey cells, which can spill honey and potentially drown the queen.
  5. Close the hive, and if there is not a honey flow then be sure to feed the hive a gallon or two of 1:1 sugar syrup as they accept the new queen. This will increase the likelihood of acceptance as the mixture closely mimics a natural nectar flow. Another helpful hint: smaller colonies more readily accept new queens. For very large hives (two deep boxes full of bees), it can help to cover the candy with tape for one or two days, then remove the tape and allow the bees to eat through the candy. Slowing them down increases the odds of acceptance.
  6. Wait approximately seven days, and check back to ensure the queen was both released and accepted. First, check the cage to make sure she was released, then quickly (two minutes max) check for eggs in empty cells (see Spotting Eggs & Larvae) in the heart of the brood nest. If you don’t see eggs and do see queen cells with larvae in them being raised, there is a good chance she was not accepted. Check back three to five days later. If you still don’t see eggs and are seeing capped queen cells, they did not accept her. You can remove the queen cells and try again, or you can allow the bees to raise their own queen. It’s ideal to try again with a new queen if you can get one within a few days.

Check out this video where I show how easy it is to find the queen and requeen in one visit!

The process of installing a queen in a hive is only half of the battle when it comes to requeening! Ensuring she is accepted is critical. Disturbing the hive too soon can increase the odds that the hive will reject the queen. Remember to wait at least seven days before checking back after installing a new queen. Also keep in mind that it can take a new queen two to three days after being released to begin laying eggs, and even then, she may have eggs on only one frame in the hive. Only spend a minute or less in a hive when checking back after seven days.

Here are a few signs she was accepted:

  • The bees seem characteristically calm and unagitated, with no uncharacteristic running, loud buzzing, unusual aggression, and so on.
  • The queen cage is empty.
  • There are eggs in the hive.
  • There are no queen cells being raised (see Queen Cells vs. Queen Cups).

Signs she was not accepted:

  1. The bees are uncharacteristically running, loudly buzzing, and unusually aggressive. This behavior is due to the lack of queen pheromones, which keep the hive orderly and focused.
  2. 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.)
  3. There are no eggs or larvae in the hive.
  4. There are multiple fresh queen cells with larvae in them being raised.

    What if Your Queen Wasn’t Accepted?

    This is frustrating but fairly common. You introduced a queen to your hive properly, following all the steps, but she wasn’t accepted. If this happens to you, here is what to do:

    1. Look very carefully for eggs.
    2. It only takes the bees 12 days to raise a new queen using a one-day-old larva (16 days egg to emergence). 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 five to seven days after hatching and begin laying five to seven days after returning from the flight. So start watching for eggs about 14 days after she hatches. This means on average it will take 24–28 days before eggs should be seen.
    3. If it has been less than 12 days since you removed the old queen, you can inspect the hive, carefully look at each frame, wipe out any queen cells, then quickly get a new queen to replace the one that 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.


    Yes! Whether it’s a different breed of queen than the hive you are introducing her to or a different breed of hive in the same yard, the bees don’t care at all. They don’t distinguish among breeds, so feel free to choose whatever breed suits you best!


    Super gentle for backyard beekeepers! Good honey producers - Great comb builders


    Gentle - Great honey producers - Excellent comb builders - Less disease prone - Tough bees!


    Gentleness of the Carniolan with the Russian Varroa resistance - Great honey producers


    Super gentle and easy to work with - Exceptional workers - Good honey producers


    Italian queen - Great honey producer - Excellent foragers - Prolific honey producers 

    Previous article How to split beehives
    Next article April Beekeeping Tips 2024