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A New Queen for the Hive

Updated: Apr 30

Whether it's you or your bees who decide that it's time for a new queen, here are some tips and tricks for facilitating an overthrow of the proverbial throne.

Supercedure


The easiest way to ensure that your bees always have a productive queen is to follow their lead when they decide it's time to supercede.


The exception to this might be if you know it is too late in the season (August or later in most of BC) for a new queen to successfully mate.


If you are allowing your bees to supercede, be sure to check the queen development timeline and make a note of when you should be looking for eggs.


It is never a sure thing that a queen will mate properly, so make sure you're checking for a good brood pattern a month or so later.





Deliberate Re-Queening


If you decide that it's time for your hive to re-queen, then you have the option of allowing your bees to raise their own new queen or buying a mated queen for them.


This is essentially a trade-off between time and money.


Many beekeepers like to re-queen (using one method or the other) in a queen's third season as this is when she tends to show decline.


Whichever method you choose for introducting a new queen, you will need to find and remove the old queen yourself.


Once the bees find themselves queenless, they will get to work raising a new queen, or they will be ready to accept a mated queen you give them.




If you know that your hive has female eggs to work with, then you can just remove the old queen and check back in a week to see that they have started to raise a queen (you should see fully formed queen cells by then).


If you are only seeing very patchy drone brood, then they may not have a viable egg. In this case, you will need to borrow eggs from another hive (it's as easy and taking a frame out of one hive and sticking it in another, bees and all - just make sure they queen is not on the frame!).


If you don't have another hive or a beekeeping friend to give you a frame of eggs, you will need to find a mated queen.







Whether your hive lost their queen or you have decided to replace her, you can save yourself time by purchasing a mated queen.


Keep in mind that it takes a full month for a queen to be raised to maturity by the hive, so that may not be an option late in the season of if your hive is really quite small and can't thrive through the long brood bread.


Caged queens (with attendants and a candy plug) can survive several days and can travel by mail.


The video below demonstrates how to install a caged queen in your hive. You need to be 100% sure that you hive is queenless before introducing a caged queen or the bees will not accept her and you will have wasted your money.





Looking for more?


Looking for more beekeeping education? You can find my virtual, on-demand beginner and intermediate courses at https://courses.rushingriverapiaries.com


Or if you'd prefer a more tailored experience, you can join my mentorship group at https://www.patreon.com/thehivementorship

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