Queen Installation Guidelines

If you are dealing with a “laying worker” hive, click here.   Otherwise, please read on.

All queens are proven “layers” and supplied in a mailing cage as shown in the picture above. The cage includes attendant bees and a candy plug.  Both ends of the cage are filled with a cork.

Leave the attendants in the cage. Queens do not feed themselves and when you first get the queen cage you should place some sugar water on the screen. The attendants will feed themselves and the queen.

The hive to receive the queen must have no queen or queen cells present. Ideally, the hive should be queenless for at least 24 hours prior to introduction.  Timing is important.

There are many ways to introduce a queen. It boils down to two basic methods. Direct release and indirect release. Direct release is rarely a good idea as the bees will usually “ball” the queen and kill her.

The indirect release method allows the bees a chance to get used to the queen before she is free to walk among them. However, prior to her release, she must be in the hive, but kept safely from the bees who may want to initially kill her.

When you receive your queen in her cage, the cage will have a candy plug on one end. You will have to remove the cork on the candy end of the cage to expose the candy plug. The bees will begin to eat their way through the candy. This usually takes a couple of days.

Suspend the cage between frames in the brood nest. Note: one frame may need to be removed to allow room for the cage. By placing the candy plug up, the queen can always climb up and out of the opening and will never be blocked by her potential dead attendants. By the time the candy plug has been eaten through, the queen should be accepted within the hive. It is very important to wait one week before opening your hive after installing the new queen. If the hive is disturbed too often they seem to blame it on the new queen and they could kill her.

In one week, inspect the hive to ensure the queen is out of her cage, alive and if you have drawn comb you can inspect to see if she is laying.


*Excerpts from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms