Requeening a failing hive

Hi fellow beekeepers,
I am in a situation where I have a failing queen bee in one of my hives which I would assume needs to be replaced. She lays eggs very inconsistently with there only being 20-30 capped brood per frame. Due to the colony being now quite small (I would assume 300ish bees) I’ve moved the bees into a 5 frame nuc temporarily. I would love to know where I can get a queen bee to replace the current one, as well as the process of replacing the queen. I would appreciate any other tips you might have for me as well.

P.S. this is also part of my school research project, so the more replies the better :wink:

Hi Luke, welcome to the forum.

In your situation, a photo of the brood would be handy. The reason I say that is in case the capped brood is only drone brood. In that case, a new queen may not help, on account that she could get rejected. On top of that, 300ish bees might not be enough to get the colony up & running again, even with a new queen.

What I would do is find a nice half frame of brood in all stages. One that’s probably half honey & half brood, with emerging bees, as well as worker eggs. Donate that to the colony. Then do the same thing every 7 days, until you see the population grow, as well as the colony producing emergency queens. As the population starts to grow, you can donate full frames of brood in all stages. That way there will be enough bees to cope with raising all that brood.

I don’t have a photo atm, but I can guarantee that it is worker brood. Since I do have 3 other colonies that are quite strong, I will try swapping out frames like you suggested and see how that goes. Since the queen is a bad layer, will the workers replace her by themselves, or will I need to assist in killing her?
Many thanks

If you can find her & your strategy is to kill her, kill her & leave her body inside the hive. That way the bees will discover that she is dead, then they will immediately start building emergency queens on the new brood you add, provided there is worker eggs. It would be good if you could add a lot of nurse bees to the colony, because it takes 500 nurse bees to raise one queen.

To add nurse bees, you simply shake bees (minus the queen) from brood frames onto a sheet on the ground. You can even shake bees from different colonies. After about 10 minutes, and all of the older bees have left, leaving only nurse bees, place the entrance of the weak colony next to them. The bees will immediately march in, where they will be well received.