How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen
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  1. #1
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    May 2014
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    Default How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    I was watching one of Michael Palmer's videos where he said a mated laying queen could be put directly into a hive with immediate acceptance because she has all the necessary scent of a laying queen. Where a mated queen shipped in the mail loses the laying queen scent and thus has to be introduced via a queen cage.

    So with this said, lets suppose I have a queen that isn't up to par and I'd like to swap her out for a good laying queen from my queen castle. How long does the failing queen have to be absent from the hive before I direct release the young laying queen into the hive without fear of the bees balling her to death?

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  3. #2
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    Apr 2015
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    Vancouver, BC Canada
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    Default

    I certainly do not know the answer to this. However, why would you take a chance? Why not put a queen Cage in and just let things happen?

  4. #3
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    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    Default Re: How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    I will preface my response with, my methods are NOT for the inexperienced, and, many folks will suggest what I do is all wrong. I have read most of Brother Adam's work, and for queen introduction, I follow one of his very important points, a laying queen can be introduced to a new colony with a high rate of success, but that is a laying queen, not one that's been in a cage for some time. The way I introduce queens is definitely NOT the right way for the general case, but works well for the setup I am using. Brother Adam's books talk about letting the new queen walk into the colony, I think it's implied she walks in thru the front entrance.

    I mate my queens in mating nucs. I am typically introducing them into new nucs freshly made up. I will take the frames of brood and bees from the donor colonies and place them into the nuc with whatever feed frames of feeder stock they require. Then I walk over to the mating nucs, find a queen and put her in a cage. I walk over to the new nuc, set the cage down on the top bars and open it up. I've been doing it this way for 3 years now, probably 30 or so times. I have not had one rejected.

    To requeen a full size colony, I've only used this method maybe a half dozen times, but it's essentially the same process. First find and eliminate the queen in the box to be requeened. Then I walk over to the mating nucs, put a fresh new queen in a cage and go back to the target colony. I have opened them on the top bars, and I've opened them on the landing board to let her walk in. My success rate doing it this way has also been 100%, but not a large sample size.

    A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to deal with half a dozen virgin queens. Long story, I missed cell day due to being in the hospital, a bar of cells emerged in the cell builder. I got home a few days later and we managed to harvest a bunch of 4 day old queens from the top box of the cloak board cell builder, got them all into cages. I did roughly the same thing with those. My mating nucs are 5 half size frames in a deep box divided 4 ways. We split a bunch of the mating nucs by taking 2 brood and one food frame into an empty compartment along with 2 new frames, careful to not get the frame with the queen. I just opened up the cage and let the young virgin queens walk in off the top bars. 9 days later all of them had fresh larvae.

    FWIW, I have tried it once with a queen that had been in the cage for 24 hours. She was balled within seconds of coming out of the cage. I would only do a candy release for a queen that's been in a cage for any length of time, or a push in cage aka Michael Palmer's method for a high value queen.

    Why do I do it this way when a candy release is supposed to be much safer ? I read in Brother Adam's books about his method and wanted to try it. By doing a direct release of a laying queen, she can start laying in the new colony right away, I feel it gives them a few days head start over a candy release. What I feel is important to note, for us, queens are not a precious resource, I always have plenty of spares in mating nucs so losing one now and then is not a big setback. If one gets balled walking into a colony when I do it this way I can just walk back to the mating nucs, get another one, and leave her in that colony for a timed candy release. Even now when we are finished our splitting for this season I have a dozen mated queens in the mating nucs. I think this was the biggest eye opener for me after we started raising queens here and got to the point where there are always spare mated queens in mating nucs. Suddenly queens are not a 'precious' resource and we take a whole different view on the value of a queen. If this one is no good, or gets killed, no big deal, lots more where she came from, and that's only 20 meters away.
    Last edited by grozzie2; 06-07-2019 at 01:46 PM. Reason: 3 yrs, not 2

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Belmont, Michigan
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    Default Re: How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    grozzie, thank you for your reply. The difference I see, is your freshly made up nucs have no queen when made. Where as mine was made up using the old queen, which I later swapped out without success. Perhaps a direct swap out one-for-one is not advisable. Then again, in Michael's video he described the technique of how Brother Adam swapped queens in the spring from his over wintered nucs to his production hives as a secret method of producing a bumper crop of honey. Although Michael didn't go into depth as to how it was done.

    I recently swapped out some Italian queens for Carni which seem to do better here in the Michigan winters. This was done by making the original hive queenless for a day and then introducing the new queen via a queen cage into the hive. When I swap out a queen, I don't immediately pinch her, she is relegated to the stand-by queen castle just in case I need an emergency queen for some reason.

    In my case, I had a queen that the bees didn't like and had started supersedure cells on two instances in as many days. Not wanting to deal with this, I decided to take this queen and a couple of frames to start a nuc for my son. So after an hour or so, I got to thinking that I didn't want to burden my son with a failing queen. So I went back into the nuc and caught the bad queen in a plastic queen clip and went and picked out a frame with an Italian queen from the queen castle. I walked over and slipped the frame with the queen into the nuc. The queen in the queen catcher, I released in the slot I removed the Italian queen from. Well it wasn't a pretty sight, and I doubt that queen survived. As for the queen on the frame I slipped into the nuc, well I have my doubts there also and instructed my son that when he transfers the frames to the deep hive to look for the marked queen.

    So I think it's going to take Michael to chime in here as to how exactly he direct introduces a laying queen. I seen in his video where he lets one walk off his fingers onto the top bars.

    I'm wondering if it takes a few hours of being queenless for the scent of the old queen to weaken to where they realize they're queenless before the direct introduction of the other queen?

    Perhaps the bees in the queen castle immediately detected that the queen in the clip I was giving them was way too inferior for their liking and immediately took action to dispatch this queen.

    Well this was my first adventure at direct introduction and it didn't seem to go well. No big loss as both queens were not of high value status, and were on hand in case of a pinch where I had an immediate need for a queen.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    NY
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    Default

    There was some Canadian study i believe about the likelihood of this being successful. I believe the hive had to be queenless and the sweet spot was 2 or 3 days first.. But I have done it in less times with sucess.

  7. #6
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    Br. Adam described how he re-queened full sized colonies in his book "Beekeeping at Buckfast Abby."

    The morning of the re-queening operation the young queens in the nucs were caught and caged, transported to the apiary to be re-queened, and when the old queens in the production colonies were caught and caged, the new queens in their cages with candy plugs, were put in. The old queens were taken to the nuc yard and placed in the now queenless nucs in the same manner. Br. Adam states that mature laying queens could be exchanged in colonies, but it appears that he did not do so as a practice.

    There was no waiting period when the new young queen was exchanged for the old laying queen, the old queen was removed and the new placed in. The length of time the nucs were queenless, before the caged old queens were added to keep them in operation, depended on how long the work of finding and removing the queens in the field colonies took.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Belmont, Michigan
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    Default Re: How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    My son messaged me, and I'm happy to report that the Italian queen on the frame that I inserted into the nuc is alive and well. So now to further research and refine the process!

  9. #8
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    >So with this said, lets suppose I have a queen that isn't up to par and I'd like to swap her out for a good laying queen from my queen castle. How long does the failing queen have to be absent from the hive before I direct release the young laying queen into the hive without fear of the bees balling her to death?

    I would wait at least two hours. 12 hours would be ideal especially if it was overnight.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    South Hamilton, MA
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    Default Re: How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    Putting the queen castle frames in the new hive worked for me. I don't think I waited. To make the old hive queenless, you could divide it with a cardboard sheet. The top or bottom would be queenless.
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    409

    Default Re: How to do a Direct Introduction of a Laying Queen

    Here is my thinking on the subject - be warned I haven't tested it yet, tho I will soon - remember that a swarm can try to usurp an existing hive. A strong swarm, with a queen, can try to strong-arm their way into a weaker hive and kill the queen and move in.

    So.... if the hive has a queen CELL, or a laying queen, or a virgin queen, and the scent of an ADDITIONAL queen comes in the door - the instincts to protect the house queen kick in. That's my take on the circumstances, or instincts, behind successful (or unsuccessful) behind queen introduction.

    So if you are swapping a laying queen for a laying queen, the bees will not notice a different scent. They would if there were 2 sources of queen scent...so those girls shouldn't overlap!

    Trouble is, if you have a hive where you have removed the queen, do you know for sure if there is another queen in there? Not unless you wait 3 days to see if there are eggs, or add eggs/larvae and wait 5 days and see if the bees make queen cells.

    And a hive with queen cells must have each frame shaken to find every one, and then I cut out each one. Then I try to wait 20 min so the bees are sure there is no more hope for a queen.

    So, I will be swapping some queens because I want them in different hives, which have different sized frames, so I can't just swap the box locations. I'll report back soon!

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