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How Long Can A Queen Bee Live In A Cage (What Should Do?)





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You probably got a new queen bee in a cage for your colony. Or may be thinking about buying a new queen for your hive. The queen came in a small cage. So, you don’t have any idea about how long the queen bee can live in a cage.

That’s what we are going to talk about in this post. Moreover, I will guide you on when and how you can safely introduce the new queen to the hive.



Why Put Queen Bee In A Cage?

Queen bees are kept in a cage at the start of a new bee colony. There are several reasons why a queen came in a cage.


Queen bee in a cage



During Transportation Of Nuc To Hive

While you are purchasing a new Nuc from elsewhere. The seller will send you the Nuc with the queen in a small cage. This is to provide extra safety to the queen.

During transportation, the queen bee is kept protected. As she is the heart of the colony she shouldn’t die.

Also, during nuc to hive transportation, some bees can die. It’s common and it’s natural. But the queen should be protected and she shouldn’t get injured. This is why she is kept in the cage.



To Introduce A New Queen On A Queenless Hive

It’s common that sometimes a hive can become queenless. The queen can die due to various reasons. But the queenless hive won’t survive if a new queen isn’t raised within a few days.

In this situation, the beekeeper needs to purchase a new queen and introduce her to the colony. But the worker bees might not accept her suddenly.

So, the queen is kept in a cage for a few days. When the workers accept the queen, they will chew the cage plug. The queen will be removed from the cage and lead the colony.



To Raise Multiple Colony In The Same Hive

A queen won’t allow another queen in the same hive. But sometimes beekeepers need to raise 2 queens in the same hive. This is to split a beehive into 2 separate hives. Or to requeen a queenless hive.

So, to raise the new queen and to protect her one of the 2 queens was kept in a cage. So, that the old queen can’t kill the new one.



How Long Can A Queen Bee Live In A Cage?

Queen bees can live up to 10 days in a cage. Depending on the type of bee and care provided to her, the duration can vary from 6 to 10 days.  She will survive as long as she has proper food. If she doesn’t have any food she will die within less than 24 hours.

As the queen is the only reproductive woman in the colony. Also, pheromones released by her control the activity of the colony. So, she required more food and care compared to other members of the colony.

If she doesn’t get food for a few hours, she might die. Even if she gets food after a few hours she will become weaker.

The more she is kept in a cage the more she will become weaker day by day. You know a weak queen means a weaker colony.



Will Bees Feed A Queen In A Cage?

Worker bees will feed a queen in a cage if the queen is from their own colony. But if the queen is introduced from another colony, initially bees won’t accept her. So, they won’t feed her.


How Long Can A Queen Bee Live In A Cage


But if the colony doesn’t have any queen without her. Then within a few days, worker bees will accept her and will start feeding her.



When To Release The Queen From The Cage?

The caged queen should be released within 7 days. If you kept her in a cage for a long time she will become weak. So, she should be introduced to the colony at least within 7 to 10 days after she is caged.

Usually, queen bees came in a small plastic cage with a candy plug. The candy plug is to feed her while she is kept in the cage. But as soon as the candy is over she requires food.

If she doesn’t get food for 12 hours she probably gonna die. Also, the queen will become weaker if she doesn’t get food and care from the worker bees.

The recovery process of a weak queen takes a long time. Also, there is no guarantee that she will be strong again. So, a caged queen should be introduced as soon as possible she arrived.



How Long Does It Take For Bees To Release Queen From Cage?

It actually depends on how long it takes for worker bees to accept the new queen. Usually, a queenless hive accepts a new queen within 48 hours to 72 hours. So, after then the worker will release the queen from the cage.

Worker Bees Trying To Release The Queen From The Cage
Worker Bees Trying To Release The Queen From The Cage


The queen came in a cage having a candy plug. When the caged queen is introduced to the colony, the worker won’t like her. Because the pheromone released by the different queens is different.

So, they might try to kill her. But the cage will protect the queen from them. The workers will get used to the pheromone released by the new queen. Then they will accept her. So, the queen will chew through the candy plug and release their new queen to the hive.

This process usually takes less than 48 hours to 72 hours. For some colonies, it can be less than 24 hours to even 4 days. Also, if the queen doesn’t get accepted by the colony. You might find her dead inside the cage within a few days.



How Do You Release A Caged Queen?


How To Release The Queen From The Cage


Usually, the queen is released by the worker bees automatically when they accept her. But sometimes depending on the cage worker might be unable to release her. In this situation, you should manually release her. This can include the following steps.

  • Step-1: Add Foods: First if you think the candy inside the cage is not enough for the queen add some food for her. You can put sugar syrup or cake or treacle on the cage. Make sure the food is not too much. A little amount of food is quite sufficient for her.
  • Step-2: Don’t interrupt For 2 Days: In most cases, worker bees release the queen by chewing the candy plug. This can take 2 to 3 days. So, after introducing the queen to the hive, do not open it for the next 2 to 3 days. Let the worker accept their new queen.
  • Step-3: Check If The Worker Accepted Her Or Not: After 2 to 3 days check whether the worker bees have accepted the queen or not. If you see worker bees swinging around the queen cage. They have eaten a portion of the queen cage. This means they accepted the queen. But they might be unable to eat the entire candy plug to remove the queen.
  • Step-4: Open The Candy Plug: If you discovered that the worker has accepted the queen. Then you can release her on your own. Using your hive tool or by using a needle open the candy plug. Then place the queen cage inside the hive and close the hive.


That’s all! The queen will come out from the cage and will be adopted by the colony. Remember you shouldn’t keep the queen in a cage for more than a maximum of 10 days. Also, don’t release her until the worker shows symptoms of accepting her.



What If My Queen Bee Dies In A Cage?

In case the queen bee dies in a cage you have to remove her from the colony. Also, try to introduce a new queen.

As you know the queen is the main part of a colony. Without a queen, the colony won’t be able to survive for long. So, if your queen bee died in a cage try to requeen the hive as soon as possible.



Frequently Asked Questions


Can A Queen Bee Survive Alone?

No, she can not survive alone. The Queen bee needs care all time from worker bees. She doesn’t work to get her food. She also relays on drone bees for mating.

She needs a continuous supply of food and attention. For which she depends on other bees. This is why a queen bee can not survive alone.

Can 2 Queen Bees Live Together?

Usually, 2 queen bees can not live together. But if you want to raise 2 queens on the same hive you should use a queen cage. When there is 2 queen in a hive they will fight with each other.

Either 1 or both of the queens will die during this fight. If you put one of the queens in a cage then they can’t fight each other. Make sure to keep them on two different frames.

What Happens When Two Queen Bees Are Born?

If the old queen can find the newly born queen she will kill her. Though the new queen is given birth by the present queen, still she kills her. Because no kingdom can’t be ruled by 2 queens. So, to protect her reign she kills her own daughter.

Beekeepers use a queen excluder to raise 2 queens in the same hive when they need it. The excluder usually came in a small plastic box. This effectively keeps the queens excluded from each other.

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