NZBF: Introducing a new queen

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Auckland
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Hobbyist
Hi. I have an old queen which isn’t laying well. I have purchased a new queen and I’m looking for advice regarding how to introduce it. Do I need to find the old queen and kill it before I introduce the new one?
 
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Grant

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I have purchased a new queen and I’m looking for advice regarding how to introduce it

Introducing one queen can be tricky. The colony is made up of bees descended from the original queen, so they’re intimately familiar with her pheromones and scent. If a new queen is introduced, they may see her as an intruder. If the colony does react badly to the new queen, they’re likely to attack and eventually kill her.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to introduce a new queen that will minimise the chance of rejection.

When a queen cage is placed in the middle of the hive, the worker bees can smell the new queen through the air holes and, theoretically, get used to her scent. Within 2-5 days, they will chew through the sugar plug and release the new queen.

Essential oil sprays can be used in conjunction with other release methods. You simply fill a spray bottle with a mix of essential oils – mint and lemongrass work well – and sugar syrup. Lightly spray the frames and bees, then place the queen cage into the hive. Other beeks will waft a squirt of air freshener.
 

Mark Lawrence

Founder Member
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43
63
Christchurch
Experience
Breeder
Agree with Grants advice.
Just remember to remove any tabs on the outside of the queen cage so the bees can access the sugar plug to release the queen. The "tabs" vary depending on what type of cage you have.
It is an easy task to overlook.
 
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3,483
6,498
Hawkes Bay
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Commercial
If you do not kill the old Queen than your chance of success with the new Queen is very low. If you have a double brood chamber then I recommend putting an excluder between the two boxes four or five days before you want to look for the Queen. You then need to look for which half has eggs and then find the Queen and kill her. If you can't find her then you could split the hive in half and put the new Queen into the half without eggs.
Queens and cells should be introduced as soon as possible after the hive has been made queenless i.e. straightaway. I have found that the longer a hive is queenless the less likely they are to accept a new Queen.
 
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Josh

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Christchurch
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Queens and cells should be introduced as soon as possible after the hive has been made queenless i.e. straightaway. I have found that the longer a hive is queenless the less likely they are to accept a new Queen.
some resources suggest killing the queen, then wait. Then remove any produced queen cells. Then put the new queen in?

Is that too long?

Also, as a hobby beek with only a few hives, I’d take the old queen off in a nuc split. If something goes wrong, she could always be put back again to wait for round two.
 
3,483
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Hawkes Bay
Experience
Commercial
There is a commonly held belief that hopelessly queenless hives will accept new Queen is better than one that has just been made queenless.
This is as case of something sounding right and seeming to be sensible but it isn't.
As a commercial beekeeper I don't want to have to go back and put queens or cells in a few days later but if it worked better I would.
There is unfortunately a lot of stuff written about bees that is either wrong or perhaps could more correctly be described as less than right.
Putting a queen and a few days later will still work a lot of the time just as putting the new Queen in straightaway is not always successful but on average it will be more successful than waiting.
 
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