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I got some queens in wooden three hole cages. Six attendants seems like overkill, but maybe the supplier was concerned that too few would not be able to keep the queen warm? How many are normally added to three hole cages?
 

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I have read that if the queen will be picked up and put in a hive the same day then 2 or 3 is fine. If it's going to be longer due to shipping or whatever then you want more workers in there.
 

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A queen breeder friend came by after inspecting one of their yards to help with inspections on my hives, and had 6 queens with them (gotta love friends like that). When leaving, they noticed one of the queens only had 1 or 2 living attendants, handed her to me to make a quick nuc because they said she wouldn't make it till the following day when they'd be back in an apiary. Seems like their queens usually have about 6 attendants.
 

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There are extras because some of her majesty's attendants die during transit. So it is always best to put in a few more.
 

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I think you need enough to help manage the temperature (both heat and cool), tend to the queen and account for 1 or 2 dead attendants (if you constantly get more than there is probably something wrong... overheating, old attendants, etc.). Too many can make it hard for them to cool the cage in hot weather. Too few and it can be hard to maintain temperatures or cope if an attendant dies.

I've had very good luck with 5 even when temperatures get into the upper 90's. I'm not aware of any study being done to determine the impact of the number of attendants though.
 

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Does it matter if the attendants are young nurse or older worker bees with the queen?
 
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