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  1. #1
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    Question Introducing new queen

    We can't find the queen in our hive so are planning to pick up a new one tomorrow. How do we introduce her to the hive? Was told we might have a virgin queen so if we do how do we find her? The queen we are picking up tomorrow is a laying queen.
    Thanks for your help.

  2. #2
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    Before buying and attempting to introduce a new queen, I'd be sure the hive was indeed queenless. If you have a virgin queen, then its going to be hard to find her in a big hive. If you try to introduce a new queen in a hive that has a virgin hive, you'll likely loose the new queen. My recommendation is to wait about a week and check back for signs of a queen. You don't need to physically see her, just evidence that she's in the hive (eggs or larvae) . Again, the first step is to be sure you really need a new queen - this could save you money and time, may even save the hive.

  3. #3
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    Default eggs or larvae

    Eggs & larvae are near to none. We're thinking a new queen is the only way to save this hive. We really need details on how to introduce her and I mean real details.

  4. #4
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    I agree with Astrobee.

    No need getting a newly bought queen killed if you already have one, no matter how poorly she may be performing.

    I would make absolutely sure there was no queen present and if not introduce your new queen using the method detailed below..

  5. #5
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    What people are telling you about needing to determine your hive is queenless is not something to trivialize. This is THE most important thing to assure success in introducing a new queen. Just because there are no eggs right now might mean you are queenless but it might mean you have a virgin or mated queen which hasn't started laying yet. Were there open cells in this colony? If there is a virgin or newly mated queen in your colony, she WILL kill your store bought queen, if she doesn't die in the cage from neglect prior to emerging.
    To determine this you could sit on your hands for a week or more, not an easy thing to do, I know. If you have a frame of very young brood, just hatched, to give them, they will start a queen cell if they need one. If they do you can introduce your queen at that time with a very good chance of acceptance. If they don't start a cell that probably means there is a queen in the colony.

    Let's say you are sure there is no queen in your colony. Your new queen will most probably come in a cage with candy that is corked so the general population of bees cannot access the candy. She will probably have attendants in this cage with her. Release the attendants prior to putting the cage in the colony, but it is a bit tricky to do. It is wise to do this inside where the escaping bees will fly to a window, in case the queen accidentally gets out also.
    Suspend the cage between the center frames of the brood nest, making sure the bees can access her for feeding. We recommend you don't remove the cork right away, give them a few extra days to get used to her. Sometimes the candy is not hard enough and she is released too soon. After a few days remove the cork and give them access to the candy and let them release her that way.
    Sheri

  6. #6
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    ETA I agree with making sure you don't have a Queen, first and foremost. I waited several weeks before deciding to requeen my hives. Then, as I am up in Alberta, where the season is so very short, we decided to requeen as our colonies were getting so small and we needed to build them up before the season is over and we needed to get the stores up before winter arrives. HTH

    Did you install a package of bees? if so then putting the new queen in would be the same as when you put in your original Queen in. If not then I would suggest watching this youtube video for the part where the Queen is put in:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a4a-Tw-qFI

    You will need nails (bent at right angles - see picture on my blog at: http://bee-tales.blogspot.com/2008/06/requeening.html ) and a small marshmallow)

    Basically remove one outer frame from your hive. Then move the frames a little so there is space between frames closer to the centre. Remove the cork from the Queen cage (carefully so as not to let the Queen and her bees out and so as not to injure any of them). Stuff some marshmallow into this hole. Enough to block the hole but not enough to injure the bees inside. Just enough to mean the bees will take a couple of days to eat their way through the marshmallow.

    Stick the nails carefully in the upper end of the Queens cage like in the picture on my blog. Going by the picture on my blog, hang the Queen cage from the nails between frames in the hive in the gap left by the removed frame. You will see worker bees crawl over the Queen cage instantly to meet the new Queen. Close up the hive and leave for a few days. Check the hive in 3 -4 days to check the Queen has been released. If not then release her. Close up the hive again and leave for at least a week or more undisturbed. I left my hives for two weeks as if the bees are constantly disturbed during this time they can blame it on the new Queen and kill her. After two weeks I opened up the hive and found LOTS of brood

    HTH.

  7. #7
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    >>>Remove the cork from the Queen cage ..... Stuff some marshmallow into this hole.<<<

    Installing a new queen not acquainted with the colony is different than installing a queen which has traveled with the package and to whom the bees are already familiar. A marshmallow can be eaten through within a day and that is too soon for that new "stranger" queen to be out in the general population. If you MUST use a marshmallow, leave her corked for a few days first.
    Sheri

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    >>>Remove the cork from the Queen cage ..... Stuff some marshmallow into this hole.<<<

    Installing a new queen not acquainted with the colony is different than installing a queen which has traveled with the package and to whom the bees are already familiar. A marshmallow can be eaten through within a day and that is too soon for that new "stranger" queen to be out in the general population. If you MUST use a marshmallow, leave her corked for a few days first.
    Sheri

    Oh I didn't know this - it worked well for us thankfully in two of our hives a few weeks ago. The new Queens were accepted very well. Very well indeed!

    But thanks for the information - I will remember that in future! Good information to know!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosies View Post
    Eggs & larvae are near to none. We're thinking a new queen is the only way to save this hive. We really need details on how to introduce her and I mean real details.
    I urge you to slow down and learn more before throwing a new queen at the problem. Honestly you haven't really described the problem/situation of this hive adequately enough for anyone here to recommend requeening. It may benefit you and this hive if you gave us more details.

    If there are ANY eggs you have a queen (of course excluding the laying worker case). If there is a queen present, and this seems to be the case from your last post, who is under-performing, then you need to remove her from the hive BEFORE attempting to requeen.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janemma View Post
    Oh I didn't know this - it worked well for us thankfully in two of our hives a few weeks ago. The new Queens were accepted very well. Very well indeed! But thanks for the information - I will remember that in future! Good information to know!
    Janemma, a new queen direct released into a queenless colony can be accepted too, it is just better odds if you give the bees a chance to familiarize themselves with this new queen. Especially if they have been queenless for awhile it seems those old grouchy bees don't know what is good for themselves and sometimes kill her. Or maybe they are so desperate they "love her to death", .
    I think the number 1 reason of poor queen acceptance, in a queenless, non laying worker colony, is being released too soon.
    Sheri

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    Janemma, a new queen direct released into a queenless colony can be accepted too, it is just better odds if you give the bees a chance to familiarize themselves with this new queen. Especially if they have been queenless for awhile it seems those old grouchy bees don't know what is good for themselves and sometimes kill her. Or maybe they are so desperate they "love her to death", .
    I think the number 1 reason of poor queen acceptance, in a queenless, non laying worker colony, is being released too soon.
    Sheri
    Definitely good to know - I hived a swarm last week and will be keeping an eye on it over the next few weeks to check it has a laying Queen. Hopefully all is well with it and the hive will do great, but if I need to requeen for any reason this colony is MUCH bigger than my packages so I would want to install the new Queen properly so thanks so much for the advice - good to know! How many days would you advise to leave it before checking that the Queen has been released? The books really only talk about new packages and not so much about requeening.....I was surprised that youtube doesn't have anything on requeening.

  12. #12
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    On the subject of requeening - When I installed my packages and had no signs of a laying Queen in either of my hives I was advised to give the hives time....which I did - several weeks.....many inspections...plenty of time and patience....no Queens to be found, no eggs, no larvae...no signs at all for many weeks.

    Given that I am far north an dour season is very short it was decided that I should requeen to build up the numbers of bees because of the short season, to build up the colony for the winter cluster, for honey for their stores etc etc

    I'm wondering when you advise a beekeeper to give a colony time before requeening does this take into consideration the beekeepers location? The time of year/ length of nectar flow/ season? Age of colony/ Size of colony?

    I am just curious as to whether this makes a difference as to this advice. Only because it did make a difference to the advice that I was given at the time. This is not related to the person asking this original question specifically but to the topic in general.

    TIA

  13. #13
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    Location has to be a part of the equation, as do the other factors you mention; size of colony, time of year etc. Beesource is a GREAT resource as you can usually get location specific advice. But, throwing new queens at a situation will not necessarily solve the problem and might actually delay a solution; size, location, season do not negate this basic truth.

    In the case of a package being bad, most likely the queen would either not lay at all(dead or dud), lay a little (underperform) and be superceded, or be fine for a while then swarm or be superceded. Figuring out what happened is sometimes difficult for someone who is inexperienced. In your case, if there was no queen at all from the beginning there would be NO brood of any type, as you stated. A hopelessly queenless package is easy for an experienced eye to discern, they should be requeened immediately. The problem is, when giving advice to newbies who might not be able to tell if there are eggs or not, the safe way to proceed is to stall the requeening until there would be capped brood, which is easier for the novice to recognize. This is an especially tempting tactic when the package supplier is asked to replace a bad queen gratis. Replacing queens quickly cuts into the profit margin and they certainly don't want to do this to a possibly queenright colony.
    On the other hand, in the case of swarming or supercedure, there may be a virgin at play, which delays brood rearing, making the hive look queenless when they are not. The time line of requeening from possible supercedure, swarming etc all need to be taken into consideration, and here again, the novice might have a hard time recognizing the clues. Time usually sorts this out eventually, but sometimes time runs short, especially in the harsher climates.
    I think it is important to ask the right questions in a timely manner to determine just what is going on in a colony. Having a local mentor or joining a local bee club is beneficial as that experienced eye can more reliably point you in the right direction. Having several colonies is very helpful, as there is less chance of total failure and you can boost the weak one/s with resources from the strong. Also, giving a frame of eggs to a suspected queenless colony is a great diagnostic tool to determine if indeed they are queenless.
    You were unlucky both the colonies went queenless so immediately, this certainly limited your options.
    Now, not trying to be a smart @$$ here, but I am curious if the queens arrived alive and you installed them with the marshmallow method you related earlier? Just kidding! While I am obviously not a fan of marshmallow release methods, if those packages were shipped to you those queens should have been able to be direct released and been OK.
    Sheri
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 06-26-2008 at 05:14 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    Now, not trying to be a smart @$$ here, but I am curious if the queens arrived alive and you installed them with the marshmallow method you related earlier? Just kidding! While I am obviously not a fan of marshmallow release methods, if those packages were shipped to you those queens should have been able to be direct released and been OK.
    Sheri
    Both Queens were alive and well when installed and both had been released when checked a couple of days later. Three weeks later there was still no eggs or larvae. The bees were drawing comb well and didn't seem aggressive or melancholic at all...there were no other signs of them being Queenless except no eggs or larvae..we waited almost a month and then took the advice to requeen. With the bad weather we have been having and low temperatures this years season is not going to be a good one as it is. I think they need all the help they can get to build up their stores for winter......now they just need to work on numbers to build their numbers up for their cluster to stay warm this winter. Our winters are VERY cold.

    The first Queens came from Hawaii. They were HUGE - really long too. The second Queens came from California. They are tiny - practically the same size as the other bees - I was really surprised after the first Queens. These new Queens are doing great thankfully.

  15. #15

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    Rosies,

    If you have another hive, take a comb of capped brood, eggs, larvae etc. and give it to them. This will help add bees to the weak hive while the "is there a queen/requeen" question is considered.

    Brush off all the bees on the frame of brood comb before putting it in their hive. Since there are few bees, do a dilligent search for the queen.

    If you can't find her, and there are no eggs (look for them) then introduce one. If you find her she's obviously failing, remove her. If you locate her and she's small, a virgin, leave it. If you need to purchase a queen buy a marked queen, it's easier to find her after release to make sure they have accepted her. Introduce her several days after old queen is gone. How to introduce her depends on how she is caged. Most queens I've purchased are sold in regular, not push-in cages. A little box with a screen on top will hold the queen and a few workers will be in there to care for her. There will be a cork at each end. Behind one cork will be a piece of hard candy.

    When you get the caged queen keep her in a cool and somewhat dark place until introduction. Place a drop or so of water on the screen, not enough to fall through, just a drop or two. (I even place a drop of honey there if I have it. I don't know if there's anything to it or not, but most times the honey is local, smells like my bees and I think it may help them accept the queen better. Haven't had one balled yet, even in hives that have long been without a queen and laying worker hives.)

    Fit the cage between frames in the brood box, with the screen where it can get air. Leave the corks in place, candy side up. In a few days check and see how the bees are acting around it. As a beginner it's hard to tell. Look for agressive behavior, are the bees biting the cage? Or are they interested, in more of a caretaking mode? They'll be bees all over the cage either way. If they aren't aggressive you can release the queen. If they are, wait a few more days and then take the cork out of the candy end. The bees will eat through the candy and release the queen. Once she is no longer in the cage very carefully check for her to make sure she is accepted. If she's in there and OK close up the hive and leave it alone for several weeks. When you check again there should be eggs and brood.

    Buy a good beekeeping book, or get one from your local library. Most of them have a section on quen introduction. Or look it up online and add "picture" to your search terms. You'll probally come up with a picture of the process. Others here have left picture links for you also.
    Last edited by gingerbee; 06-26-2008 at 06:08 PM. Reason: Clarity
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  16. #16
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