Re-Queening the Spring Colony

By | May 10, 2013

Sadly when the bees swarmed last weekend, collected and put back in the box, the queen was lost. I can’t be certain how she was lost, but this is no time for mourning. The important thing now she’s gone is to get a queen into the hive.

One of the stranger things you can  receive in the post...

One of the stranger things you can receive in the post… She’s the one with the red dot on her back

There are a few methods to re-queen a colony, but in the interests of reducing risk, I’ve decided to buy one in. I’m keen to get a honey crop this year, so having a laying queen in the hive as soon as possible helps meet this aim, through a continued large population collecting nectar, when the flowers are blooming.

The surprising thing about the new queen is she arrived in the post! I’ve decided on a Carniolan breed which are well known for their gentle behaviour, ideal for keeping bees in a public area like an allotment. My previous queen was also Carniolan, which are also known for very quick spring population growth. If not watched closely, the colony can quickly out grow the hive in early Spring, and decide to replicate and swarm. I felt certain I was prepared for the Spring growth but happened much faster than I expected.

The new queen arrived via first class postage in a bubble lined envelope, in a plastic cage with half a dozen attender bees. A plastic plug keeps them within the cage, which also contains a small amount of candy for them to feed on.

Lowered into the hive, the bees start accepting her as the new monarch

Lowered into the hive, the bees start accepting her as the new monarch

She is lowered into the hive and remains in the cage for around 2 days. During this time the other bees in the hive get used to her scent. If released into the hive too quickly, there is a risk the bees would see her as an intruder and kill her..

However a queenless hive should fairly readily accept a new queen. They can get pretty agitated without one, and are much calmer when they are queened.

After 2 days, the plastic plug is removed, where the bees then eat through the edible candy plug, releasing her from the cage, and into the hive to start laying eggs. Long live the queen!


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