Requeening

Most beekeepers recommend requeening every year. Reasons to requeen include reducing tendencies to swarm and reducing diseases and viruses. Requeening is suggested in organic beekeeping for every ailment except American Foulbrood. The hidden benefit besides a young, vigorous egg-layer is that the brood cycle is broken long enough to disrupt the virus or parasite.

The best time to requeen is during a nectar flow when brood rearing is increasing. The worst time to requeen is when nectar and pollen are scarce and the queen is not needed for immediate egg-laying. The ideal time to requeen is when there is no queen present. Before introducing a new queen, remove the old queen from the hive. Do not leave the old girl’s body in the hive when you kill her. There can be more than one queen if the hive is preparing to swarm or replace the old girl. If the hive does not accept the queen and there is no obvious reason there could be a second queen present.

Queen cells or a caged queen should be placed in the brood chamber near the top of the frames. One to two week old workers, normally in the brood area, are more attentive and receptive to a new queen. If the cage opening is facing down, dead workers can block successful exit. Place the cage with the opening facing either end with the sides accessible so the workers can get acquainted with the new queen’s pheromone and care for her until she is released. Feeding sugar syrup improves new queen acceptance.