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Requeen Your Beehive

Watch your beehive continue to grow after you requeen your bee colony.

The different members of your bee colony have different duties. The queen bee is the most important one in your entire colony. She makes sure the entire hive is clean and healthy. She lays eggs, which produce more worker bees and drones. However, after a few years, the queen will most likely need to be replaced.

Requeen Your Beehive
With help from Blain’s Farm & Fleet, you can learn how to requeen your beehive.

Signs You Need to Requeen Your Beehive

Most queen bees live from four to five years. However,they’re most productive for only one or two years. After that, they need to be replaced. Requeening a beehive is common practice in beekeeping. It will help your hive thrive and continue to grow.

If your queen has gone missing, you need to requeen as soon as possible. Lack of eggs or larvae is a tell-tale sign of a missing queen.

When to Requeen Your Beehive

It’s important to requeen your hive before the winter. Requeening in the early fall can help your new queen get used to the hive before the cold winter months. If she gets comfortable enough with the new hive, she may lay winter brood. When spring rolls around, she should be ready to lay eggs.

However, you need to keep a very close eye on your colony. They may not accept the new queen. Your new queen may also be worse than the old queen and not lay any eggs. If there is no queen bee in the fall, you’ll have no winter bees.

How to Requeen Your Beehive

Before you begin the requeening process, make sure you have the right equipment. You’ll need a smoker and beekeeping clothing to keep yourself from getting stung.

The first part is finding your current queen bee. Queen bees don’t have stripes, so look for an unmarked bee. They’re also longer and thinner than drones and worker bees. Once you find the queen, remove her from the hive. It’s important to have your new queen bee on hand when you plan to requeen the hive. Most beekeepers kill their old queen once she’s removed from the hive. You can also use her to split a hive, but you’ll most likely run into the same problems with the new hive.

Assuming you ordered a new queen, she will come in some kind of cage. It will most likely have a plug, cover or cork to keep her inside. It will also have a candy or sugar end. The bees in your hive will have to eat through it to release the new queen.

After 24 hours, you can introduce the new queen.To introduce the new queen, open your hive like you’re doing a regular inspection. Insert the cage into your hive by gently pushing it into some broodless comb. Do this in the center of the brood nest. It’s better to put the candy side down if you live in a hotter climate. The candy could melt and injure the new queen. You can leave the cap on or take it off when you install the cage.

Once the cage is in, push the frames together on either side of it. It should be set just below the top bars of your hive. Once you’ve secured the cage, leave your hive alone for about a week. If you left the cap on, you’ll need to take it off about two days after the install. Give your bees time to accept their new queen.

After about a week, do a regular hive inspection to check on the queen. If you can find her or if she’s already laying eggs, you’re in good shape. However, if you can’t find your queen or your hive has rejected her, you’ll need to order a new queen bee.

Requeening a beehive is a challenge, but the results can be well worth the trouble. If you want to learn more about caring for your honey bees and beehive, visit our beekeeping blog.

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