Queen introduction.

When you receive your queen, I would suggest you first introduce her to a nuc of young queenless bees rather than directly trying to requeen a full colony, especially if it has been queenless for a long time and is full of older bees. Make sure the nuc has not started queen cells when you introduce the queen in her cage and after she is out of the cage check a few days later and remove any queen cells if present. Once the queen has been laying for a couple of weeks in the nuc, this can be combined with the colony to be requeened after removal of its queen.

native black queen

If introducing the queen directly to a colony via an introduction cage, it is critical to establish that the colony is queenless. An absence of brood for several weeks does not mean that a colony is queenless as colonies like these often have a virgin queen or a non laying queen. The introduced queen is always killed in a colony like this. The workers in the colony will kill the introduced queen. The two queens do not meet to ‘fight it out’ as many seem to believe!


Test for queenlessness a few days before introducing your queen by inserting a test frame with small larvae on it. If the colony is truly queenless, queen cells will be drawn on this frame. If no cells are drawn the colony almost certainly has a queen in it and you will have to find it and remove it if you want to introduce another queen. The queen could be a scrub queen no bigger than a worker.

Avoid trying to requeen a colony which has been queenless for so long that it has developed laying workers. Although possible, your chance of success is low and an introduced queen will usually be killed. Good information about laying worker colonies can be found here.


You will have received your queen in an introduction cage of which there are several variants. The cage will be closed by a plastic tab or by tape.

There is no need to remove the attendants although many sources will argue that this is critical. I never remove attendants and I rarely lose a queen on introduction. Don’t spray the cage with water when you receive it as the bees and queen will die if they get wet & sticky. A single drop of water placed on top of the cage is more than enough. Don’t leave the cage somewhere hot where the fondant is likely to melt. Room temperature is ideal.

queens for posting

Put the cage in the colony for 24 hours suspended between two frames with the fondant at the bottom. After a day, check the cage and if the bees seem interested in the cage and non aggressive towards it, open the plastic tab and put the cage back in the colony in the same place. Leave for 2 days and check back that the queen is out of the cage.

If she is out of the cage, remove it and quickly close up the hive.
If she is still in the cage and the fondant has gone hard, scrape out a little but don’t manually release her unless you are confident that you can put her back in the cage if the bees start to attack her.

Check after a few days for eggs and when you see eggs close up quickly again. You don’t have to see the queen at this point. Remove any queen cells present. A hive with a new queen is still quite delicate and too much intrusion can lead to her being balled and killed.

Good luck with your new native queen.

About Jonathan Getty

Jonathan Getty is a member of the Belfast & District branch of the Ulster Beekeepers Association and is at least a fourth generation beekeeper in the Getty family. His main beekeeping interest is queen rearing based on our native bee Apis mellifera mellifera. He started up the Belfast Minnowburn queenrearing group several years ago and it now has about 50 active members. He also manages about 30-40 colonies of his own. Jonathan holds a BSc Hons in Psychology from Queens University Belfast and gained a postgraduate teaching qualification at Stranmillis Training College. He is a fluent Spanish speaker.
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29 Responses to Queen introduction.

  1. Pingback: How to introduce a new queen in a cage | Native Queen Bees

  2. Bruce MARTIN says:

    Please put on mailing list interested in Amm Queens next season
    Thanks B

    • Jonathan Getty says:

      Check back on the website from time to time for latest updates.
      Wont be much happening now until next spring.

  3. Bill Sievwright says:

    When do you recommend I place an order for three queens to be delivered when available in 2016.

    • Jonathan Getty says:

      I should have queens available from early June. You can order any time. I deliver in the order I take bookings.
      This year I started to get orders coming in from February.

  4. Andreas Papadopoulos says:

    How much is the price for a good queen?
    And can you send it to Cyprus?
    You have available now?

  5. Edward Rea says:

    I urgently need a fertilized queen.
    How soon can I pay and collect Johnathan?
    Got a queen from you last year and was great sucess.
    You can call me on 07511279709 please.
    Regards Eddie

  6. W Wright says:

    Can I collect queen

  7. Pingback: Queen introductions – bbkamodules

  8. Chris Pearce says:

    If the candy has gone hard and you decide that is probably best to release the queen manually, as she has been caged in the hive for a few days, remember an unclipped queen from a mailing cage can fly.

    • Jonathan Getty says:

      If the fondant goes hard I make a small hole through it with a piece of wire and put the cage back so the workers can release the queen in the dark.


    Hello, I’m a beekeeper from ROMANIA… Is it possible to order 10 queens from you?

  10. alex Lamb says:

    how is stock for 2017?

    • Jonathan Getty says:

      I should have the first queens ready in June, weather permitting. I have started taking orders already and I post out queens in the order they are paid for.

      Best wishes, Jonathan

  11. Leith Hensderson says:

    Hi Jonathan

    Are you based in the uk or Ireland ?

  12. Pingback: Guidelines for introduction of a queen | Native Queen Bees

  13. Terry Chamberlain says:

    Hi, I am hoping to buy one of your Queens, hopefully, I am not too late, regards Terry.

  14. Harry Bird says:

    Hi do you have queens available now,do you think they will cross with my mongrel bees without getting to aggressive my bees are not dark but a mixture.
    Cheers Harry

  15. Arthur Beevers says:

    2018 first week in June 2018. required three amm mated queens . can I pay now and order three queens .
    Arthur Beevers . 2 High Street .Pointon . Sleaford . NG34 0LX .tel 01529 240655
    Iam retired so time for delivery is not important .

    • That’s no problem, with the caveat that if the weather is bad it could be a week or two later than that.
      Having said that I usually manage to have a few ready in early June.
      I have already taken a few orders for 2018


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