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Releasing queen of a package


My main concern is that the overnight forecast for the night I’m due to get the package delivered is forecast to be mid-40s Fahrenheit.

Hang the queen cage?
Place on bottom of brood super?
Direct release?

Thank you.


I personally think that hanging the queen is a mistake. I tried it even though I had read quite a few things suggesting not to because I had also seen a lot of people suggest that is how it should be done. However I had a large piece of errant bur comb built in just 3 days because the queen cage puts way too much room between frames and the bees will start building comb near the queen first.

I wouldn’t put her down on the bottom if your temps are getting that low. There is a theory that even if a queen doesn’t die from the cold that the sperm that she has stored can become chilled and she will not be viable anymore. This is anecdotal and not scientific so take it with a grain of salt.

Check this out for some tips. I can say the things I did not listen to were dead on and I should have listened to it.


Some sources say to direct release a queen, especially wen its cold and to avoid misshapen comb-building.

Has no one ever lost a queen due to rejection or absconding? This is what the mainstream literature cites as the main reason queen cages exist in the first place?


If I were to do it all over again and didn’t feel comfortable with straight releasing the queen in to the box I would put her on top of the frames in the area where the hole in the inner cover is. That way the bees can’t build wonky comb but you could keep the queen in the cage. I am sure there is a reason why this isn’t the best idea either but it seems like the happy medium between the two schools of thought and also does not allow messed up comb by screwing with the bee spacing.


Hmmmm. Creative.
Would the swarm be able to keep her warm?
I suppose it’d be easier to get rid of comb from th underside of the roof than cross-comb from/to the queen cage.


I can’t say for sure but I believe they would be able to keep her warm just fine. They would likely cluster up into the roof/inner cover area to make sure they could. They would want to build down from her first I think, so I doubt they would start building on the roof, but if they did it would be very easy to see and remove. On mine they were building combout from the face of the foundation so I ended up slightly damaging some of the surrounding comb which I think set them back more then just removing some excess comb built from the roof if they chose to.


Sure. When she was still in the cage and they moved next door and abandoned her… or when she’s not in the cage. No difference.

I would not put the queen cage on the bottom if there is any possibility of the temperatures dropping below 10 C (50 F). She will be abandoned and die if they cluster.



So below 50degreesF better to risk malformed comb than risk losing the queen due to cold is the opinion of some, but your recommendation is to direct-release, yes?


I do direct release, yes.


I followed Michaels’ advice and direct released and both queens are still alive and i live in Alaska where its a blit below freezing at night.


Did you leave the cage open under the frames of the brood box?


I put the cage in between the frames with the hole pointing down and she just walked out.


sorry to bump this old thread but have been troubled to find this exact answer. I’m going with foundationless frames.

Michael you say on the subject of hanging the queen, " This almost always results in an extra comb between those two frames drawn on the queen cage. Release the queen and you won’t have to worry about the messed up combs. This is even more important in a foundationless scenario such as a top bar hive or foundationless frames as one messed up between the frames comb will result in a repeat of the error the rest of the way across. Dump the bees in. Let them settle a bit. If you’re afraid of the queen flying, then pull the cork from the non candy end (where she can get out now) and, while holding your thumb over the hole, lay the cage on the bottom and leave it. Put the frames back in and the lid on and walk away."
my question is ,how long to walk away before retrieving queen cage?
Thank you , Newbie bee keeper.


It doesn’t matter. A week. A month. A year. It makes no difference at all. Whenever you happen to be in the hive…


Or even a second, if you see her walk out. She isn’t going to go back in there again! :blush:


So I guess that they only build comb on the Queen cage when it’s suspended from the top. Thank you so much for your reply.


They build comb on the cage, or around it, when you position it so that it messes with the rest of the bee space in the hive.

If you put the queen cage on the bottom of the hive, it doesn’t mess with bee space between the frames, so they usually won’t build comb on it. Unless they are ornery… :smile:


Just to be perfectly clear for me.Uncork queen, put on bottom of hive,not inside the frames on their bottom and then sit frames in on top of queen cage. sorry to be so dense


There are lots of ways to do this. Personally I put the queen cage on the floor of the hive. I push it inside with a hive tool back from the entrance by about 8 inches, so that she is close to the center of the frames. That is for re-queening, where the brood box has full frames and you don’t want to pull them all out.

You can do the same for a package. Empty the package into the hive first, then slide the queen cage in slowly across the floor of the hive from the entrance side.

You don’t want to hang the cage from anything - it will mess with the bee space, and make removing it much harder. Definitely do not put it on top of the frames, unless you are going to stand there and wait for her to walk out. I know you weren’t proposing that, but I just wanted to be clear. There may not be enough bee space up there for her to get fed etc. while she is working her way out if she doesn’t leave immediately.


Thank you guys for the information. It"s currently snowing here. Crazy Utah spring weather. Bees are coming tomorrow and the actual hands on learning will begin.I am humbled by the opportunity to get to have this experience.thank you all for sharing your expertise.