Queen Introduction

When you receive your queen and attendants, your first concern is to make sure they have water.  The attendant workers need water to dissolve the queen candy and feed the queen. The best way of doing this is by dipping your finger in clean water and then quickly stroking your finger over the queen cage screen.  After doing this, you will be able to see the film of water over the openings in the screen.  This should give the bees about a drop of water.  Every day the queen is not in the hive, you must give them at least one drop of water.  I usually give them one drop in the morning and one drop in the evening.  Keep the bees in a dark place and at room temperature.  It is best to keep them out of high traffic areas which will increase air movement and cause drafts.

Keep the queen shipping cage out of any room where pesticides have been or are being
used.  

It is important to get the queen into a colony as quickly as possible.

The queen is contained within a cage that can be used to introduce her into the hive.  If you are going to use the shipping cage to introduce the queen, there is no need to remove the attendant bees; however, removal of the attendant bees does increase the probability of success.   The best way of removing the attendant bees is to open the shipping cage inside a room with a window to the outside.  Do this during day light.  Remove one of the staples on the queen cage and use the screen to control how the workers escape from the queen cage.  In this way, you can get the attendant bees out and keep the queen inside the shipping cage. The attendant bees will fly to the window and will be easy to catch and remove.  (I use a water glass to trap them against the window pane and an index card to cover the open end until I can get them outside.)  Should the queen escape, she will also fly to the window and be easy to catch.   If she does escape, catch her by gently grasping both wings between your thumb and index finger to return her to the queen cage.   If you do not want to risk handling the queen, introduce her with her attendant bees. 

Before you introduce your new queen, make sure the hive has been queenless and without queen cells for 24 hours.  Go through the hive and remove all queen cells.  If there are queen cells in the hive, the colony may not accept the new queen.

The shipping cage can now be placed between two frames in the brood area of the hive.  You will need to remove a frame to do this.   I do not remove either cork.  In this way, I can release the queen when it is clear she has been accepted.  I usually wait four days to be safe.  You will know if the queen is accepted by the behavior of the workers.  If they are crowding onto the queen cage and biting the wires, the queen will
need more time.  If they are strolling on the wire and feeding the queen, she most likely has been accepted.

Often a hive will start queen cells while the queen is still in the queen shipping cage.  It is critical all queen cells be destroyed at least 24 hrs before you release the queen.  

When you think she has been accepted, remove a frame with bees from the brood area and lay it flat on the top of the frames.  Remove one staple from the shipping cage and release the queen onto the frame.  If she has not been accepted, she will be attacked by the workers immediately.  If this behavior begins, she can be  rescued and returned to the queen cage.  The easiest way of doing this is to catch the queen by the wings with one hand, lifting the wire on the queen shipping cage with the other hand, and place her inside.  After replacing the staple, you can return her to the hive to give her more time.  If all is well, the queen will walk into the middle of the bees on the frame.  The workers will form a circle of attendants around her and there will be no aggression toward her.  If you have the time and are willing to watch, you can see her find an empty cell, back into it, and lay her first egg.

Carefully return the frame to the hive and replace the frame you removed to make room for the shipping cage.  The workers will continue to be very interested in the cage. To speed their eventual loss of interest, simply put it on top of the closed hive. 

You may modify this method by removing the cork in the candy end on the third day after removing all queen cells.  The workers will free the queen over the next few days. Using this method, the queen will not have an opportunity to fly and not needing to be handled.  You still need to check to make sure the queen is released.   Because you are not witnessing her release, there is a chance she will not be accepted when using the modified candy method.

The colony should be left alone for at least two weeks so the queen and workers can establish her brood area.