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New queens ordered - what to do?


Hey there!
Being sure that two of my hives didn’t have a queen, I ordered two new mated queens. I don’t have a delivery date yet, but discovered that at least one of my hives (a split, actually) DOES have a queen. Didn’t see her in person, but there were eggs and uncapped brood. The other hive, mother of that split which has swarmed after splitting, had a negative queen test, but no eggs yet, when I checked. So maybe there’s a young queen that has yet to begin laying?
So my problem is now, what to do with the new queens? I’m not sure if I can still cancel the order. Plus, I don’t know if I do need at least one queen. I only have one free magazine at the moment, for my order of new hives is delayed. Could I try to tinker something to make it a two appartment house? And then? After all I’ve read, I’d take something like 3 frames with capped brood and one or two frames full of food and pollen per queen, plus the bees on them, then set this up one or two days before the arrival of the queens, so the old foragers will return to the mother hive. Then I can safely introduce the queen, right? Then, if I discover that I need a queen for the above hive, I’ll just transfer those 4-5 frames incl. queen?

I’m confused…


in my limited experience (once) with requeening definitely make them hopelessly queenless (remove them from the queen) at least 24 hour before hand. I wouldn’t direct release the queen even after this period. Give it at least 3 days with her in the queen cage, release her onto a frame of bees and watch her and how they interact with her. If they are agressive (biting, balling) then remove the queen and put her back in the cage. When i did it i watched them and they were extremely curious but didn’t bite her legs or anything like that. I gave it 10 minutes and put the frame back in the hive and it’s going good now. I hope this helps.


When you think a hive is queenless you are wrong 9 times out of 10. They likely have a virgin that isn’t laying yet. But they COULD be queenless.



Yes, I’ve read your pages a few times and I really like it! I did give the suspected queenless hive a frame with eggs and open brood and checked it a week later. The split by then had fresh eggs and new open brood on more frames. I only checked very shortly on the mother hive, since the bees were VERY unfriendly. There was a general agressiveness around, after I made some bad decisions. The hive (located at my mothers house) swarmed, I retrieved the swarm and housed it in a new hive in my own garden. A week later I found no eggs nor the queen, which must have been my old queen with a bright blue mark on her back. So I decided the swarm was queenless and tried to unite it with the split at my mothers house (where I had seen the new queen before, when she was not yet laying) using the newspaper method. This resulted in severe fighting, dozens over dozens of dead bees every day and this general agressive base mood. So my mother ordered to separate split and swarm to end the battle. I was afraid that the new queen in the split was killed. Plus, I broke the queen cells I found in the mother hive a week after swarming without making sure there was a queen. Stupid! After all, I gave each of the three (mother hive, split and swarm) a brood frame. The swarm was already doomed a week later, with obviously laying workers and only a handfull of bees left. The brood frame was mostly lost, as the bees were not able to cover and nurse more than a hand-sized area. I then took the split over to my house and just put the frame with the last swarm bees in - no problems. By that occasion I discovered mentioned fresh eggs in the split, but I had already ordered the queens by then. I haven’t touched the mother hive since then and wanted to wait another few days before interrupting them again, I already did too much and was too impatient, I guess. They seem to start hating me, I occasionally get pursued and even stung for just walking by … But we have stupid weather for some weeks now, very changing, rainy, windy, even stormy some days, so they might be moody themselves…


Make up 2 frame nucs for each and bring them on for the winter.[quote=“Beast9156, post:2, topic:7458”]
in my limited experience (once) with requeening definitely make them hopelessly queenless (remove them from the queen) at least 24 hour before hand

Hopelessly queen-less means that the bees have no way of making a queen. If you remove a queen you have to wait until the last egg laid is 7 days old. Bees can make an emergency queen from a 3 day larva…that’s day 6.
Removing a queen and waiting 24hours before introducing a caged queen means that the bees may well start emergency cells and reject your introduced queen. A better option is to wait just one hour.
If the colony is a strong one then an even better way is to make your new queen a nuc, have her laying in that and unite to the colony you wish to re-queen


Indeed, i used the wrong terminology :slight_smile: what i meant to say was that let them know they don’t have a queen. I see what you’re saying, introduce in the cage 1 hour later. i thought you meant direct release… which i don’t think would go well haha.


Can I just build some kind of divider in a 10 frame deep, will that work? I don’t have nuc boxes right now, for the manufacturer has none on stock and I can’t buy langstroth equipment around here. I could get dadant nuc boxes, but I don’t really want to mess around with another size…


Yes a divider will work. Make sure it separates the hive into two completely from floor to top.
It would be a good idea to make two crown boards too.
make the entrances 180˚ from each other.


Ok, the last point will be not so easy… I’d have to make a hole in the wood. Or I’ll try @Michael_Bush’s top entrance for one nuc, which tempts me quite a lot, although I’m not sure how to actually make it out of the equipment I currently own.


GNAAA! I got a message from the breeder today, that the queens were shipped YESTERDAY! and were to arrive today (I was at work!) or tomorrow (I’ll be at the beekeeping seminar). Or maybe Monday or tuesday… :angry: Is it normal that breeders are so careless about their “products” that they risk their loss during shipping (if they stay at the post office over weekend) or due to missing preparation at the destination (no preparation time without announcement of shipping)? My mother checked my mailbox for me - no bees yet. So maybe - hopefully - they’ll arrive tomorrow, while I’m in class. My mailbox is normally not hit by the sun before 2pm, so I hope the queens won’t be cooked in there… I guess I’ll have my mother check on it tomorrow again… But even then I’ll have to prepare the nucs in time, which won’t be possible if I’m not at home. Can I set up the nucs in the morning before class and put the queens in later in the evening? And waht if I set up the nucs and the ladies don’t arrive until tuesday? Will that do too much harm?


It is a little short, but I have successfully requeened hives as little as one hour after removing the old queen. In my experience, you can tell from the hive noise that the bees are missing their queen - it sounds more agitated and frantic than usual. If the queen is caged with chewable candy, chances are that she will be accepted after a couple of days, just put her in the nuc inside the cage. However, I would watch for the first 20 mins or so - if the bees start “balling” the cage (densely swarming over it and trying to sting through it) I would leave the queen in the shade well away from the hive for a day or two.

Should be OK, the worst that can happen is that they will make an emergency queen cell (or several). If you have that situation, I would probably try direct releasing the shipped queen, to get her pheromones around the hive ASAP, and allow her to dispatch any competitors which are pupating.


I’d try not to give them uncapped brood, just emerging brood and food frames. So I could just let the queen free after the bees consider themselves as queenless. I watched a video the other day, where the guy put the cage onto to frames and watched how the bees reacted. They smelled her immediatly and climbed onto the cage and started fanning, so he said they were friendly and released her. She looked around for a moment and then walked off between the combs without being disturbed. I wish it’ll be that easy for me too… (Plus those two ladies were not really cheap…)
Then, after making sure the hive is indeed queenless, can I just transfer the frames with the queen into the hive? Maybe three frames out and then three frames in with the queen in the middle, protected by her bees? In my class I’ve been told that this would work since in nature nobody would install other hive’s combs with other hive’s bees and so this is nothing a bee brain can handle, so every bee that is on a comb in the hive is a sister to them…


I totally understand. You will not harm the queens if you can keep them at a temperature of 15 - 28C, out of direct sun, and in a dry place. A garage is often a good choice, unless it gets hot in the day time. My shipped queens sometimes spend a day or two in the utility room, because it is on the north side of the house and the temperature is stable in there. Shipped queens usually have a food supply of candy, which should last around a week. I haven’t tested it further, as I don’t think I have kept a queen caged for longer than about 5 days. Having said that, a hive prepping for swarming will starve the queen for a week, and she is fine, so I don’t think you should worry about food, just ambient temperature.

That sounds like a very good plan.


Ok, thanks a lot. I’m just quite nervous, like any first-timer. :wink: I couldn’t finish my divided hive today, it’s too late now to use the circular saw anymore. My neighbours already don’t really love me for a few other reasons (new in the village :expressionless:, my oh so unusual dog is barking when someone passes by :scream: and those nasty bees who supposedly have no other purpose than to go and sting people just for fun… :smirk:), I don’t need to feed that any further…
I guess I’ll have to depend on beekeeping class to finish as early as possible, so I can test/check my mother’s hive for queenlessness. And then I’ll see if I need two nucs or just one and set that up.


Ok, now the two-appartment-house is fnished and already inhabited. I installed two frames with mostly emerging and a little open brood and enough food in each compartment, added two starter strip frames and shook the bees of 4 or 5 more frames into the splits. Now I wait a little to let them settle, let the old foragers fly off and maybe have them notice they are queenless. The new ladies are already alone in their cages, I let the nurse bees fly off and broke out the plastic seal, so the cages are now only sealed with food. In the meantime I’ll read Micheal Bush’s text on the topic (again…)

Oh, the suposed-to-be-queenless hive is indeed NOT queenless! I didn’t see her in person, but there were many, many eggs - one single egg right on the bottom of each cell, so just the way it should be - and lots of very young larvae. Older ones too, of course…It didn’t inspect the whole hive frame per frame, just the test frame - no queen cells drawn - and three other frames. One comb is a little bit messed up, I’ll take that one out soon. It looks like it sagged, althoug it is pure natural comb without foundation. But it’s wavy and was fixed to its neighbours, so it broke a little while being pulled. Mostly honey and drone brood, so not THAT bad.


Nice to hear an update, thank you for taking the time to write it. I hope everything goes well with the new queens.


You don’t have a good laying queen until you see a tight pattern of “capped” worker brood.


You don’t say… I’m talking about a newly mated queen that just started laying. She’s not a witch, it takes it’s time.


I do say… Until the brood is capped you don’t know if you have a drone laying/poorly mated queen or a rock-star lol.


I’m well aware of that. But for the moment being I’m happy that there’s a mated laying queen in that hive AT ALL. And it was important for the decision what to do with the purchased ones. I can’t put a queen into a queenright hive, can I? :wink: Now I have to wait for the outcome. And the outcome is not capped brood, it’s overall hive perfomance.