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Requeening. Bob Livingston Apalachee Beekeepers 02/14/2012. What is requeening?. The replacement of a colony’s mother queen by a younger queen (typically one that has been purchased or reared to have favorable traits). Why would you want to requeen?. Maximize honey production

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Bob Livingston

Apalachee Beekeepers


what is requeening
What is requeening?
  • The replacement of a colony’s mother queen by a younger queen (typically one that has been purchased or reared to have favorable traits)
why would you want to requeen
Why would you want to requeen?
  • Maximize honey production
    • depends on bee management that produces a strong colony at the beginning of the main honey flow.
    • younger queens typically lay more eggs than older queens. When you have more eggs, you have stronger colonies and increased honey production.
  • Minimize Swarming

Colonies with younger queens are also less likely to swarm.

  • Temperament

Requeening of the colony also allows the beekeeper to have some control over the stinging temperament of the colony.

  • Voarra Management

a break in the brood cycle which makes varroa mite treatments more effective

mites are on the bees (phoretic) rather than in capped cells

florida s best management practices
Florida’s Best Management Practices.
  • Requeening with queens mated from known drone populations is what is suggested by the state of Florida’s Best Management Practices.
when to requeen
When to Requeen?
  • Requeening in the early spring as a swarm management technique seems to be the most popular in our area
  • Young queens are less likely to swarm
  • lots of nectar and pollen is available
  • done early enough to allow the colony to build back up to max strength prior to the main honey flow.
  • However, queen availability in early March is problematic
when to requeen 2
When to Requeen 2
  • Some writings encourage fall requeening
    • queens are more available and cost less.
    • The young queen winters with the colony and is less likely to die during the winter than older queens.
    • disadvantage is that in fall, nectar flows are not heavy
      • bees more readily accept new queens during heavy nectar flows, however, you can feed sugar syrup to overcome this.
natural vs managed requeening
Natural vs. Managed Requeening
  • Natural requeening occurs when worker bees in the colony replace a defective queen
    • called queen supersedure.
  • When managing colonies for honey production, natural requeening should not be relied on for several reasons.
    • Sometimes the colony lets the queen become too old and the colony weakens.
    • If supersedure occurs during the spring, the colony may swarm.
  • Managed requeening involves introducing a new queen into the colony.
managed requeening
Managed Requeening
  • There are many techniques to introduce a new queen into your hive
the most essential points
The most essential points
  • The colony must be Queenless!
    • Bees will not accept a new queen while the mother queen is in the colony.
  • Even when queenless, initially the bees will try and kill the queen because she is not a member of the colony (yet).
  • Requeening techniques are designed to reduce premature queen death by limiting the bees’ access to the new queen during the introduction period.
  • Once the bees have become accustomed to the new queen she is released into the colony
requeening with the standard queen bee shipping cage
Requeening with the Standard Queen Bee shipping cage
  • Use marked queens. A marked queen is easier to find in the hive and lets you know if she’s been replaced. (Very important in Africanized bee areas).
  • At least several hours before introducing the new queen, a full day is probably better, locate the old queen and either kill her, move her to a nuc or otherwise remove her from the hive.
  • Remove the cork from the end of the new queen’s cage without the candy and carefully release the attendant worker bees without releasing the new queen. (optional)
    • You can hold the cage inside your veil or an enclosed area (such as a car) so queen can not accidentally escape. Place the cork back in the non-candy end.
  • Next, remove the cork from the end with the sugar candy.
requeening with the standard queen bee shipping cage 2
Requeening with the Standard Queen Bee shipping cage 2
  • Poke a nail sized hole through the sugar candy (be careful not to skewer the new queen) to give the bees a small start at removing the sugar candy.
    • The nail hole results in a more rapid release of the new queen.
    • Sometimes it’s best to not poke a starting hole in the candy which gives the new queen a longer period to be accepted.
  • Wedge the cage vertically between the top bars of two brood frames inside the colony with the candy end up.
    • Make sure the screen side is unobstructed to allow the bees’ access to the new queen through the screen.
  • The queen is usually released in about 2-3 days.
  • Re-inspect the colony briefly for the presence of eggs or young larvae in about a week.
    • This will indicate a successful introduction.
requeening with a push in queen cage
Requeening with a Push-in Queen Cage
  • A push-in type introduction cage is a small wire or plastic cage that is pushed in to a frame with empty drawn comb.
  • The new queen is placed in the cage and allowed to lay eggs in the empty cells.
  • The theory behind this method is that a new laying queen is better accepted than a new caged queen.
  • Disadvantages are that it takes longer, requires another piece of equipment and the new queen must be removed from the shipping cage and manually transferred to the push-in cage.
  • The new queen may be injured or lost during the transfer.
requeening with a requeening frame brushy mountain
Requeening with a Requeening Frame (Brushy Mountain)
  • Similar to the above method but utilizes an introduction cage built into a frame.
  • A wooden queen shipping cage fits into the requeening frame and the new queen is released directly into a large screened area.
  • After the colony has accepted her, you open a door on the frame and let her walk out.
  • Doesn’t require handling the queen like the above method but the requeening frame takes the place of a frame in the hive and requires manual release of the new queen.
  • No comb provided for queen to lay in.
  • Requeening frames are much more expensive than push-in cages.
  • Doesn’t work with plastic queen cages.
alternate requeening methods
Alternate Requeening Methods
  • Honey drench method
    • Remove new queen from cage
    • Drench with honey
    • Release drenched queen into hive
    • Honey masks new queen’s smell
    • Worker bees will clean honey off of new queen and accept her
    • Acceptance rate unknown
alternate requeening methods 2
Alternate Requeening Methods 2
  • Masking Spray Method
    • Open hive and spray top bard with a mixture of water and either Honey-B-Healthy, vanilla extract spearmint, wintergreen etc.
    • Remove queen from queen cage and spray with solution
    • Introduce queen directly into hive’
    • Spray masks both the hive and queen odor
    • When smell dissipates, queen will be accepted
    • Acceptance Rate Unknown
likelihood of acceptance
Likelihood of Acceptance
  • The likelihood that a colony will accept a new queen depends partly on the conditions present during the queen introduction period.
  • To increase acceptance consider these points:
    • Younger bees accept queen more readily than older bees
    • Smaller colonies of bees accept queens more readily than larger ones
    • Bees accept queens more readily during a nectar flow
acceptance 2
Acceptance 2
    • Bees are less likely to accept a queen when colonies are trying to rob each other of food stores
    • Bees are more likely to accept a new queen that is similar to their old queen i.e. replace a laying Italian queen with a laying Italian queen.
  • There are many other considerations when installing a new queen will increase your chances of queen acceptance to research and experiment with.
when does a hive produce a new queen
When does a hive produce a new queen?
  • Swarming is the natural means of reproduction of honey bee colonies.
    • A new honey bee colony is formed when the queen bee leaves the colony with a large group of worker bees, a process called swarming.
    • About 60% of the worker bees leave the original hive location with the old queen
    • You go in your hive in the spring and there is half the amount of bees than a few weeks before, and the last time you checked they were cranking!
when does a hive produce a new queen 2
When does a hive produce a new queen 2
  • Supercedure is the process by which an old queen bee is replaced by a new queen.
    • Supersedure may be initiated due to old age of a queen or a diseased or failing queen.
    • As the queen ages her pheromone output diminishes.
    • Your original marked queen is no longer in the hive and there is another queen.
    • You see queen cells being formed by the worker bees in the hive that tend to be in the upper-middle part of the frame
when does a hive produce a new queen 3
When does a hive produce a new queen 3
  • Emergency
    • Queen dies or colony is made queenless by splitting (mother queen stays in new nuc/hive
    • Parent hive other half is in emergency queenless state
  • Bees in the queenless colony will make another queen in this emergency situation.