Dear Auntie Bee & Uncle Drone: In the event of a queen being past it (see previous query re a queen going off lay during treatment with MAQs) I would like to replace her with one from another hive that I have split in two to avoid swarming. In the top box with the old queen is a sealed supersedure cell, and in the bottom there were two queen cells which will have hatched and probably mated by now. Do you think I can take the new queen from the top box before I combine the two (having checked that there is a queen in the bottom) and should I move her before or after mating?
Uncle Drone answers:
Regarding re-queening, this should only be undertaken carefully and with adequate preparation of both the donor and recipient colonies otherwise total failure is guaranteed.
You mention a “top box” with an old queen and a supersedure cell and a second “bottom box” with two queen cells. What you do not mention is how these boxes are separated. Do you have a Snellgrove board, supers and queen excluders between these boxes? On the assumption that these criteria have been met continue as follows:
Check for the new laying queen in the top box (if she is not in lay abandon this procedure) and mark her for the year and place her in a queen cage, resting this on the top bars of this box covering it with a cover cloth and placing it on the upturned roof. Next remove and place the Snellgrove board, queen excluder, supers and lower queen excluder to the side of the lower brood box. Check this box to ascertain that there was a young laying queen present and mark this queen.
At this point both of these brood boxes can be combined and one of the queens removed for introduction to another colony.
The recipient colony should be searched carefully, its queen-right status confirmed and then de-queened. The new queen in her cage should be soaked in syrup, this to include the paper plug retaining her in the cage, then placed carefully between two frames of eggs/unsealed brood for her to be released by the workers. The area around her and the adjoining frames should be liberally doused in syrup. Close the hive and leave untouched for 10-14 days at which time you should take a quick look to confirm a laying queen (are there eggs present?).
There are many, many ways of producing and introducing queens, this version will work as will many others but is given as a simple way for newer beekeepers to re-queen stronger colonies without loss of crop. Never try to replace a laying queen with a virgin queen this will always fail and can cause many problems that are not easy to correct.