Select an exact date for your new queen to arrive and make it known to your queen breeder, and get a MARKED QUEEN. TEN days before the new queen is to arrive, insert queen excluders in between any two boxes where your old queen can go. When your new queen arrives, water her and store her in a cool dark place until needed. Gather up a double screen board, an empty hive body, 10 drawn combs, and a feeder with a gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup. Find the OLD queen (which ever brood box has larva is where the queen will be found) in the colony you want to requeen. Set her ASIDE away from the colony, so that you free to manipulate all the other frames in the colony. Select 3 frames of brood: 1 capped and 2 of eggs and larva, all with the covering nurse bees. Place these in the center of the empty hive body. Now add 6 more frames, as follows: 2 empty drawn comb, (one on each side of the brood frames), 2 frames of pollen and honey, (one on each side of the drawn comb), then 2 more empty drawn comb, (one on each side of the honey-pollen frames). This totals 9 frames leaving space for the queen cage. Now take several frames of brood …remaining in the old colony…and shake the nurse bees into the new 9 frame nuc. Cover the nuc and set it aside for a while. Return the frame with the OLD queen to her home hive and replace the 5 frames you removed (3 of brood + 2 of honey-pollen) with empty drawn frames

Now put the double screen board on top of the old colony so that its entrance faces to the rear of the parent colony. Set the new 9 frame nuc on top and install the new queen (make sure you remove the cork from the candy end). Start feeding the new nuc immediately. After about 3-5 days, check the queen cage very quickly using little or no smoke to see if the queen has been released. If she has not, you release her from the cage. Do NOT disturb for another 5-7 days and then check with as little disturbance and smoke as possible tooking for eggs and larva. Add the 10th frame and remove the queen cage. During the next few weeks (I like about 5-6) check the brood pattern of the new queen. If you like it and want to accept that new queen, find the old queen down below the double screen, kill her, and remove the double screen board.

This method has a couple of advantages:

  1. If something is wrong with the new queen, you kill her and the colony has a backup with the old queen; and you requeen the colony at a later date, and
  2. for about 5-6 weeks, you have 2 queens laying eggs that increase the number of bees which will make the hive stronger for winter and reduce the stresses of Winter.

Note: If you don’t have a Double Screen Board – You should. If you are not sure how it is made, imagine a wooden queen excluder frame without the metal wires, covered on both sides by 8 mesh wire – A DOUBLE SCREEN BOARD. Brushy Mountain Bee Farm in North Carolina makes and sells a fancy, very, nice one.

George Imirie
Certified EAS Master Beekeeper

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