How do I care for my Queen once she arrives?

When your queen arrives, you should give her a drink of water. The best way to do this is let a drop of water hang off the end of your finger and slide your finger across the screen of the queen cage. Alternatively, you can lightly mist the cage with a spray bottle.

How soon should I put my Queen in the hive?

We recommend you put the Queen in the hive ASAP. Put her in the day or following day you receive her. The bees in the hive will take care of her a lot better than we can in the Queen Cage.

How do I release my Queen?

There are many methods of releasing the queen.

We recommend sitting the queen cage, with the queen and escort bees still inside, in the queenless hive for 24 hours. This will get the colony used to the new queen’s pheromones and allow for a better acceptance. You can place the cage on top of or in between the frames, with enough space that the bees can feed the queen through the mesh. Generally, the queen is better accepted when there are no open brood cells within the hive. This is because the colony may try to produce their own queen from the open brood, and choose not to accept the introduced queen.

After 24 hours, the plastic gate on the queen cage should be cracked open. From there, the bees can eat through the candy, releasing the queen into her new hive.

How long before I check on the Queen?

After the Queen is released, you need to make sure she is laying eggs and the bees have accepted her. Most beekeepers wait 7 to 14 days before going into the hive and looking for eggs.

Why do bees not accept new Queens?

Many times a Queen is introduced to a hive and their is either a Queen already there or there are Queen cells. In these situations, the Queen will not be accepted and is usually killed. So, make sure there are no Queen cells in your hive. If you don’t wait at least one week before getting into your hive; after the queen is released, the bees can panic and roll your Queen. There are many other reasons a Queen is not accepted. That is why it is important to release your Queen properly.

How often should your Queen be replaced?

Some beekeepers think their Queens need to be replaced every year or two years. Well, I think about this differently and here is my method. Every Spring, I check the brood pattern of my queen. If she is laying in most of the cells across the frame, I do not replace her. If her brood pattern is spotty and there is not much brood, then, she should be replaced. The reason to verify the brood pattern, is that you could have a new queen, that replaced the old queen in the Fall. Plus many hives swarm each year and replace their old queen. So, it is best to check the brood pattern before replacing a queen. If you do not find any brood, that is a sign that your hive is Queenless and you need a new Queen.