Sunday, May 24, 2009

Caging Queens

Caging a queen is easy to do. The first thing is to do is to have a cage ready. Here I have two cages ready. Whatever type of cage you use, use your common sense as to how to put an insect into it. The cages each have their tube full of queen cage candy so they can be placed into a receptive colony. The queen candy serves two purposes, it keeps hostile bees away from the queen during introduction and it keeps the queen from running into a colony only to meet her demise. The queen cage candy delays the amount of time in which the queen will be able to have full access to the receptive colony and vice versa. (Do not place a new queen into a receptive colony unless the colony shows proper signs of readiness and willingness towards acceptance for a new queen. Inexperienced beekeepers should allow the bees to eat through the queen cage candy in order to release the queen, permitting extenuating circumstances, e.g.; five days have gone by since introduction and the queen is still confined). During the amount of time in which the queen gains access, by gaining access through a clean candy tube, to the receptive colony the colony slowly accepts her as their leader by becoming acclimated to her pheromone. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them if you wish.

So we have two queen cages ready to go. It is now time to find two queens to fill those two cages. Here is the first queen.

When placing the queen into the cage it is important to place here head first and to gently coax her into the cage. Do not force her into the cage. Do not hold her by the abdomen. Hold her by the wing or by the thorax only.

Now we have one queen left to go. I'm sure that you can see one cage full and one empty. The full one is complete with attendant bees. How do we get attendant bees into the cage? Well, that is a good question.

In the picture above you can see very clearly the bees with their heads in cells. I have red arrows denoting their location. All you have to do is to take hold of these bees by their wings while their heads are in the cells. If you grasp them in this manner they will not sting you. It is physically impossible for them to sting you if you grab them by their wings (both of them) while their head is in a cell. There is no trick to it. The bee can not see you approach it while its head is in a cell. It is very easy to do. You should also put the attendant bees head first into the cage. Bees are more prone to move forward than backward, especially while their head is in a hole!

You can grab any bee you wish off of a comb and use it for an attendant bee and I have but do not recommend it. What I like most about taking one while its head is in a cell is that it is oblivious as to what is getting ready to occur and that it can not sting me after I have a hold of it. The second thing I like, and is more beneficial to the bees than me, is that it is more than likely placing nectar into the cell in which it has had its head and also has its belly full which it can feed the queen with. Having attendants with full bellies is very important if you are banking queens. Unfortunately (most likely fortunately, if you want fresh queens), I have never needed to bank any queens. Banking queens is what a queen producer does when they have more queens than they can sell. As I said, unfortunately I have never had more queens than I can sell or more bees than I can sell. This is only a simple tutorial on how to cage a queen should the need ever arise.

Here are the two queen cages with queens and attendants. Catching the queen and caging her is no problem for me. Queens are easy to find, and they don't sting so they are easy to cage. The attendants are the ones which take the time. When you find the frame with the queen upon it, though it may not be easy to find her, you can capture her easily by grasping her wings or thorax. The hard part is placing four or five attendants in with her. After the queen is in the cage, the easiest way to find attendants is by studying the frame she was on. Typically around the edges of this frame you will see some bees with their heads in cells. Usually these bees are depositing nectar within those cells. These are the bees that you want. You want the ones which have full bellies to help ensure their queen can make it through the hardship of being introduced to a new colony.

For more on queens cage candy click on Recipes for Beekeepers

For more on how to handle and hold a queen go to Queen Marking


abeja said...

Nice blog Cass.Thanks for sharing your knowledge.I've been following it for some time with interest.
Have a nice day

r_chidester said...

Cass, I have to say as a newer beekeeper I've visited several websites on the subject and yours is by far has the most information I have seen. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I can see that I will be spending some time reading here. I'm sure that it has taken you some work to put this all together, Thanks again. Looking forward to making the trip to meet you & getting some bees from you in the near future.
Take Care,
Ron Chidester

Neil Kevin said...

Thanks for sharing information. I will definitely help bee keeper.
Nice presentation.

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