Thursday, August 21, 2008


The introduction of queens to alien colonies is the most difficult and uncertain of all beekeeping operations.
No method is 100% and as a result, a free book devoted to the subject is available as a download.


The BICKERSTAFFE cage is based on the Alley-Chantry principle, two passage-ways are built
into the cage and one is covered with a piece of a queen excluder. As less candy is placed in
the tunnel with the excluder the bees reach her sooner, as she cannot escape the queen
becomes calmer in the presence of the hive bees and when the longer tunnel is eaten out she
can be set free in a calmer state, which can lead to improved acceptance of a valuable

It is important to put only a VERY SMALL AMOUNT of soft candy into the tunnels. About 1cm
in the tunnel with excluder and slightly more in the unguarded tunnel. You do not want the
queen laying under the comb rather she should join the colony before the supersedure
instinct sets in.
Keep a hand supporting the cage until it is wedged in between the frames.
With strong colonies, it is important that the beekeeper knows exactly how to introduce a
It is best to try and introduce the new queen to a smaller nuc composed of young nurse bees,
two frames of sealed and emerging brood, one frame of honey, one of pollen and an empty
frame, try to avoid including eggs or larvae.
If you do not have an introduction cage the Queen cage that she arrives in can be used.
Remove all attendants and the candy cap and place between the top frames. It is also
possible to cut off the plastic end opposite the candy end to act as a queen excluder
allowing bees to mix with the queen until she is released when the candy is eaten away. In
two days if the bees are not excitable, let them have access to the candy....keep eyes open
for queen cells when returning in a week and knock out if found.
Using Carbon dioxide to knock out young bees is a successful method of introduction of
Queens into mini nucs.
Bees from an established strong colony can be shaken off frames of open & sealed brood and
then placed over a Queen excluder to allow younger bees to come up and care for it. The next
day this resource can form the basis of a nuc.
Wait about a week after introduction, return in the evening towards dusk(daylight can cause
a new Queen to fly away), and use a lightly sugared hand sprayer to cover the bees while
looking for her. If a knot of bees is seen the queen may be balled-spray and firmly pat
with fingers to release her.Re cage and allow her to recover.

If it is decided to unite the nuc to a stronger stock wait a week for the Queen to start
laying and then use household air freshener spray on the floor and tops of frames of the
hive, place the nuc frames together in the new hive.
Please post your COMMENTS on what you have found to be successful in introducing a queen bee, to help other beekeepers.

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