Installing Your Wildflower Meadows’ Breeder Queen
Congratulations on your new Wildflower Meadows’ breeder queen! Because your queen is a precious investment, you will want to do everything in your power to minimize the possibility of loss on installation.
Ideally, you will want to place your breeder queen in a healthy, single deep queenless colony that is neither particularly strong nor particularly weak. About four or five frames of bees is ideal.
Before beginning the process of installing your queen into the push-in cage, we recommend that you temporarily place the queen in her new colony in the three-hole cage that she arrived in for one to two days. Do not remove any of the corks. This will allow a brief “pre-introduction” period.
After this one or two day pre-introduction period, we advise utilizing a push in cage for the highest probability of a successful breeder queen installation:
- Before you begin, set up a work area near your colony where you can work with the queen – preferably indoors, such as in a vehicle – where there is little risk of the queen flying away or flying into trouble.
- Preassemble the push-in cage by inserting the four posts into the four corners of the cage.
- Next, go through your colony and remove any queen cells.
- Look for a frame that has emerging brood, some open cells, and nectar. (If you can’t find all three on one frame, then find a frame that has both brood and open cells).
- Brush all the bees off of the frame and bring the frame to your work area.
- Determine an optimal place on the frame to insert the push-in cage, but do not place the push-in cage on the frame quite yet.
- Release the queen and attendants over the optimal place by opening the top cork on the queen cage or by removing the screen.
- Once the queen is free, trap her under the push-in cage with as few of her original attendants as possible – preferably none.
- Temporarily close the opening of the push-in cage.
- Add about 4-5 young nurse bees from the original colony to the push-in cage and then close the cage opening.
- It is important to take a quick look to see if any of the attendants you added are hostile to the queen. If so, they need to be removed and replaced.
- Place the frame with the queen and push-in cage in the center of the brood nest. Make sure there is plenty of bee space on the outside of the push-in cage for the colony to approach the cage and the queen.
- If there is no nectar flow available to the colony, then it is advisable to feed the colony at this time.
- Close up the colony and leave it alone for three days.
- On the third day, open the colony, remove any queen cells, and release the queen by removing the push-in cage. More often than not, the queen will have already started laying eggs by now; but if not, release her anyway. She will start laying soon. Again, it is important to take a quick look to see if any of the colony’s bees are hostile to the queen. If so, place the queen back into the push-in cage with friendly attendants. Repeat this step in one-two days, as necessary. (If this problem happens repeatedly, you may have another queen present in the colony that you will have to remove.)
- If there is no nectar flow available to the colony, then feed the colony again.
- Allow the queen a few more days to get established before disturbing the colony again.