This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website and Albert Knight.
Albert Knight’s Double Screen Queen Introduction Method
Introduction of honey bee queens can be difficult if there are racial differences between the queen and the intended colony. The degree of certainty can be increased by using methods that are a little more complicated and time consuming than simple introduction.
Originally titled.. ‘Queen Introduction’
Double Screen Method. The 100% sure way of introduction.
The double screen for use with introducing a queen to a colony is just that, two travelling screens temporarily tacked together. Obviously one can make a purpose built double screen, but why do that when the two screens can be used for moving colonies if the need arises. It pays to use wire mesh rather than plastic. The plastic is easily damaged and cannot be cleaned of propolis very well. So just tack two screens together and on what is to be the uppermost screen, cut a single bee entrance but fill it with sponge rubber to prevent bees from flying for 7 days.
The day before the queen is to be introduced set an empty brood box on top of the double screen. Fill the box with the following frames, but brush off all the bees before inserting each frame. Starting at the centre of the box, place two frames of emerging brood. It is important that they are frames of brood from which bees are emerging, and not just sealed brood that may hatch in a few days time. On either side of these a frame of open stores and pollen, next one frame of water (A frame of drawn comb that has had the cells filled with water) then a frame on the outer sides of sealed stores. You now have 7 frames all positioned centrally in the box. A coverboard should be used all the time, this is to prevent bees entering.
Now set this on top of a strong colony with the entrance in the screen facing in the opposite direction to the entrance of the colony below. Close up for 24 hours to allow some of the brood to hatch, then place the cage with the queen and her attendants into the box, opening the cage before doing so, but keeping the open end covered with your fingers. Place on the floor (the screen) and quickly close up. Leave for 7 days before opening the entrance. At this stage do not open the top to examine the position, but wait at least 24 hrs to let the bees get used to flying from the entrance. It would be wise to fit an anti robbing screen over the entrance, this is simply a frame with mesh tacked on to it to cover the entrance, a slot is cut in one end to allow the bees to leave and enter. Potential robbers will go on to the mesh in front of the original entrance, but the occupants will know they have to do a 90 degree turn to get out and in. On the first inspection add two more frames of emerging brood from another colony into the centre of the box, and on the second inspection a week later add two more. This makes the box up to full strength. The decision can now to made to either unite it to the colony below, first removing the queen from the colony below, or to set it up on its own. The need to use paper to unite is not absolutely necessary, but if you wanted to play safe do so, but pierce it with a pencil or biro in several places so as to get the uniting done quickly, you don’t want queen cells to be built in the colony below, but you should check anyway after 7 days.
This method is the only 100% sure way to introduce a queen without loss, but it is a lot of bother and other methods can be used with reasonable results.
Introduction using a nucleus colony
Make up a nucleus colony with three frames of emerging brood, one of pollen, and one of open stores, all with the bees attached. Make sure a queen is not on any of these frames. Shake in some extra nurse bees from combs of open brood.
Leave for a couple of hours before placing the introduction cage in position. Take the introduction cage either indoors or into a car with all windows closed. Remove the attendant bees. If the queen does leave the cage replace her after shaking all the bees from the cage. Some beekeepers prefer to add a few nurse bees that have just emerged from the frames of the nucleus to the cage. Remove any cover from the candy entrance so that the bees gain access to the queen quickly. Now place the introduction cage between two of the central combs in the nucleus colony, ensuring the open entrance with the candy is uppermost. If it is placed downwards it could get blocked by dead workers. Leave undisturbed for 7 days.
Uniting the nucleus to a full colony
Go to the hive that is to be re-queened while the bees are flying; find the queen and remove the frame she is on and two other frames — in fact, take away what is effectively a three – frame nucleus.
Have your new queen on the centre comb of a three-frame nucleus and put the nucleus into the hive in place of the one removed.
In this way the new queen starts her new life surrounded by her own progeny and does not come into immediate contact with strange bees; she just carries on as though nothing had happened.
Note that this is done when the bees are flying, so that most of the bees in the brood chamber and in the nucleus are young bees, and such bees can be united without any fuss as they seldom fight.
Alternatively, the new nucleus can be united by the newspaper method.
Always check a colony for queen cells in the weeks following the introduction of a new queen. Often a colony will raise supersedure cells in order to replace their new queen. Remove these queen cells and then continue to check until they stop building such cells.
Having gone to all the bother of producing some well bred queens it is just stupid to lose them at the last hurdle and well worth going the extra distance to ensure a safe arrival in her new home.