Methods of introducing queens to a hive

The introduction of queens is an important part of beekeeping, but so many beekeepers have little or no knowledge of how to do it properly or that there are many different ways to do it.

I Have been to several different beginning beekeeping courses, so I wondered why they weren’t taught about a common subject like queen introduction. This raises two obvious issues, the first is the standard of teaching and the second is there are many methods of queen introduction, so which is the beekeeper to choose?

In my experience the introduction of queens is more difficult than it was 50 years ago. My view is there may be connections with the queen problems many beekeepers have been suffering since the turn of the 21st Century.

In the early years of beekeeping the common method of introducing a queen was to take a queen out of a colony or split a colony and introduce the replacement immediately. Beekeepers put a queen and about 3-4 attendants in a cardboard matchbox with the lid slightly ajar, then lay it on the top of the frames with the opening downwards. The bees in the colony would chew a hole in the matchbox and release the queen. This could be done at any time, whatever the weather, time of year or nectar flow and was highly successful. It is now much more difficult

There have been many queen introduction methods devised with whole books written on the subject. Most beekeepers have their favourites, but that doesn’t mean they are the best. The best methods are those that suit you and give you most success.

If possible I try to avoid introducing queens because of the uncertainty of success. I try to introduce queen cells if I can, so the queen emerges and mates from the colony she is going to head.

Some methods are known by the names of the originator, or as so often happens in beekeeping, the first person to write about someone else’s idea. I will give you a few different methods, some of which are similar. I will be posting articles about each method in the coming weeks and months.

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