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Hey folks, I am having a time making a decision to requeen a big hive that swarmed on May 12 and has shown no signs of a queen yet, so I thought I ought to requeen it and I ordered the queen and have a nice bred queen in hand but I am wondering if I should put her in there. There are a lot of bees in the hive and they are making honey. I had thought about putting the queen in a breeder hive I just built, waiting a few days for her to lay, and then transfer the comb with eggs into the big hive, but maybe I have it backwards. Need some advice since the hive has been queenless for 3 weeks. Maybe there is a queen and she just hasn't laid yet? Didn't see any eggs or larvae at the two week point from swarming. Haven't had a chance to go into it since week two.

How long can I keep the queen in her shipping cage? She was shipped two days ago and I gave them a little sugar water this morning when she arrived, which the attendants took to immediately. I assume as long as I give them a tiny drink a couple of times a day she can stay in there a week if necessary. We are having rainy sunless days and looks like the possibility of another tomorrow. I want as many bees out of the queenless hive as possible before I go into it. They get ornery when I pull all their frames. It is two deeps, a medium, and two shallows(8 frame).

Thanks for your advice.
 

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You should be able to read if the hive in queenless based on how they react to a caged queen when presented to them. Open the hive and place the cage (with queen) on the top bars.

Michael Palmer has a "queenless test" video on YouTube. It is usually pretty telling. They loosely cling to the cage, many will start Nasonov'ing and I noticed that a lot of them will flit their wings almost like they're so excited they can't contain themselves.

Another option would be to give them a frame with eggs/young larva and check back in a few days to check for the beginnings of queen cells.

Consider introduction under a push-in cage regardless.
 

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I have stored queens on top of a queen excluder under the inner cover of a hive before. The bees will care for her and the excluder prevents the hive's queen from killing her.

Why don't you make a nuc for her ; then if the hive turns out to have a queen you can increase by one hive, or if they are truly queenless then she will be ready to go.
 

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I've had hives that swarmed take about four weeks for the new queen to start laying so there may be a virgin in there about to start laying. Did some splits with queen cells also, and it took them about four weeks before the queen was laying. Good info from jwcarlson and arnie.
The nuc suggestion is a good one also. If no queen in the hive after another week, you can combine the nuc with the full size hive. In the meantime, the queen is doing what queens do best, laying eggs!
 

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Want to say thanks to all of you that replied to this post. It was all good advice.

I ended up putting my new queen in my newly made queen castle. I did the MP queen test on the big hive and they couldn't care less if she was their or not. Did the same on a three layer nuc that I was also concerned about and the same thing.

On Thursday afternoon I took two frames of brood, honey, and pollen and put in the new castle, then blocked it up so they couldn't leave. I also gave them a quart of 1:1.

After doing the qt on both questionable hives I did the test on the castle. The castle wanted a queen bad. They reacted the same as in MP's video. So I punched the candy and put the cage, queen, and attendants in.

If I check the two questionable hives next week and nothing I will take a frame of eggs and larvae from the castle and cut the cell sides and put frame in each.

I think I am going to find my queen castle will be really handy.

I also found swarm cells in my other strong hive and made two five frame nucs out of some of its frames.
 
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