How do you introduce a Queen?

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A. Make sure your hive does not have a queen. Remove the cork from the candy end of the queen cage. For faster introduction, poke a small hole in the candy with a toothpick, twig or nail, taking care not to damage the queen. Wedge the queen cage between two of the center frames or comb with the screen on the cage exposed so that the bees can access the queen through the screen. The bees must also have access to the hole in the candy end of the cage. Be sure the candy end of the cage is slightly lower than the area of the cage occupied by the queen. Take care to make certain that the queen cage is securely embedded in wax. If the cage falls to the bottom of the hive the queen may not survive. The queen must be placed in the part of the hive where the bees are clustered. Close the hive and wait one week before opening it. After one week open the hive. The queen should be out of her cage and she should have eggs laid in one or two of the combs. If she is not out of the cage, release her by taking the screen off.

Hives that have been queenless so long that all of the brood has hatched out do not accept queens very well. If possible, such a hive should be given one or two combs with brood in them from another colony before introducing the new queen.  That’s one reason why its easier to be a beekeeper with 2 or 3 hives, rather than only one. 

When you are re-queening, you may install the new queen immediately after killing the old one or you may wait as long as four or five days before installing the new queen.  We recommend installing a new queen right after killing the old one, though we don’t recommend poking a hole in the candy to accelerate release in this case. 

To increase the chances of the new queen being accepted into your hive you may choose to smear wax, honey, and/or propolis onto the screen of the queen cage from the hive you are installing her into. The queen will walk on the hive products and smell more like a hive member than a stranger when she is released.