Releasing a Queen from a Push-in Cage

Releasing a Queen from a Push-in Cage

Observation is your best friend

 

If you are following the re-queening of the rescue hive (HERE), then here we are at day 5 to release the queen. It is good to give the queen 4-7 days before trying to release her. If the bees show any aggressive behavior toward her, then just leave her in the cage for a couple more days.

 

When I opened the hive I began to look for evidence of a queen. Even though I know the original queen was dead and I removed all the queen cells I could see, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Some hives have been known to have two queens for a while.

 

The first frame that I looked at was an empty frame with plastic foundation, so nothing on there. Then the second frame had 3 capped queen cells that I had somehow missed. I also looked in the rest of the comb to see if there were eggs and larva. I really didn’t expect to see eggs, but it was actually full of eggs. I naturally assumed that the queen I installed had escaped the cage successfully and was busy laying, so when I got to the frame with the push-in cage I was alarmed to see that she was still in there.

 

Now I was looking for a queen.

 

I continued looking through the rest of the frames, very carefully searching for a queen and looking at the cells with eggs. I knew that there wasn’t enough time for a queen to hatch from a week ago, but sometimes a hive can have two queens for a while, especially if they are preparing to swarm. So another queen was possible.

 

I looked through the frames again, but this time noticed that several of the cells had more than one egg in them. That would indicate that workers were laying, and that was a good thing, because it meant there wouldn’t be any competition for my new queen.

 

Finally I brought the frame with the caged queen out to observe the bees surrounding it. I watched for quite a while to see how they were acting. The cage was covered in bees, but as I watched her walking around under it, the bees on the outside simply seemed to be intently interested in her. They were not bent over trying to sting her or act in any way aggressive.

 

I decided it was time to release her.

 

To remove the cage, I firmly pulled the cage off of the comb it was embedded into and quickly scoped out the queen in case I needed to rescue her. I watched breathless for a few seconds, but soon realized that she was in no danger. I’m sure the other bees were just all too happy to have a new mother to care for. Now they can relax and not worry about their colonies existence. It will continue, but with more docile Italian offspring. Next week I expect the temperament to be better, simply with the addition of the queen. They didn’t seem to be as angry as they were when I put them in the hive. I’m very excited to see them grow and thrive.

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