Buzzing Bees Blog: The New Queen; A Reign or a Coup?

By Ian Northrop, Arcadia Bee Keeper and Volunteer
Edited by Marsha Johnston, Arcadia Farm Education Volunteer 

Several days after putting the queen cage in the hive, I returned to Arcadia to check in on the new queen bee.  She had not made it out of her cage, so I removed the sugar plug and laid the cage on its side so she could walk into the hive. 

This really was a moment of truth. I wasn’t sure whether the bees would accept and begin to take care of her, or whether they would attack and kill her.

Amazingly, they quickly surrounded her and began to clean and feed her.  Success!  The adjacent picture shows the moment she entered the hive (she is marked with a white dot on her back) and you can see how the other bees are already beginning to line up to take care of her.

I watched this for about 15 minutes – it really was fascinating.  I closed the hive and decided to come back in a few days to on everyone’s progress.

Over the next two weeks I checked on the hive twice. On the second visit, I was excited to see great evidence the new queen was reigning supremely.  The “brood frame” at left is a collection of larvae and baby bee cells – the vaguely oval-shaped capped cell area in the center of the frame.  This hive had not had brood like this since I originally inspected it.

Sometimes introducing a new queen can be tricky.  Since this was my first time attempting it, I asked several folks for advice on the process.  Karl from Hunter Apiaries, who doesn’t know me at all, spent about 30 minutes walking me through the process while I took notes over the phone.  I believe several of his tips made this a success.  His company also has one of the nicest beekeeping websites I’ve seen: http://hunterapiaries.com/.  Thanks to Karl for the help!

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