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How To ReQueen A Queenless Hive In 4 Simple Steps [6 Ways]





How To Requeen A Queenless Hive

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An established hive suddenly becoming queenless is not an uncommon phenomenon. To save the rest of the colony a beekeeper must know how to requeen a queenless hive properly.

I lost a queen from a well-established hive so many times. Then I requeened the hive and successfully save the colony several times. Yes, a couple of times this thing doesn’t work effectively. So, I lost my colony those times. But in most cases it work and I was able to save my queenless hives.

That’s what I am going to talk with you now. I will guide you with 4 simple steps about introducing a new queen to a queenless hive. Also, I will share the 6 ways how you can get a new queen to requeen the queenless hive.




What Is A Queenless Hive?

Simply a honey bee hive that doesn’t have any queen is called a queenless hive. A hive become queenless when the queen of the colony died or is removed by the worker bees. A hive having a queen is queenright and without a queen is queenless.


A Queenless Hive
A Queenless Hive

The queen is the only reproductive source of a colony. She lays eggs from which new queen, drone, and nurse bees are produced. So, the lose of the queen may destroy the colony.



What Does A Queenless Hive Look Like?

First of all, a queenless hive won’t have any reproduction. So, the first sign of a queenless hive is there are no eggs or larvae on any frame for so many days.

In case, you see a few broods and larvae for a few days. It can be the queen laid the eggs before she die.

When these brood bees grow up and you see there are no new eggs. This is a strong sign of the hive becoming queenless.

Usually, the queen has a larger size than other bees present throughout the colony. So, when the hive becomes queenless you won’t find a single bee that is larger than all of the other bees.


You will also notice a decrease in population density. Because there are no newborn bees and old bees will die with time.




What Happens To A Queenless Hive?

A hive becoming queenless is the main reason for a colony becoming weak. First of all, the worker bees will try to raise a new queen from the eggs and larvae that the old queen laid.

If there exists any queen cell filled with fertilized eggs. The nurse bees will start to feed one of them with royal jelly. Then they will grow this brood as their new queen.

If they were unable to requeen the hive then the colony will become weak. With time the colony will be destroyed soon. Because there will be no new generation who will keep the colony growing.

You probably know that the entire colony runs by the pheromone released by the queen’s body.

There is no pheromone means no distribution of work. Also, the worker bees who went out to collect pollen and nectar will be lost their way to the hive.

So, day by day the number of colony members will decrease. The colony become weaker day by day and once destroyed.




Why A Beehive Become Queenless?

You know a beehive become queenless when the queen is died or is removed. Several reasons are possibly responsible for the death of the queen. These can include any one or more of the following.

  1. The colony is attacked by varroa mites, AFB, or similar types of diseases that cause the queen’s death.
  2. Sometimes beekeeper kills or removes the old queen to introduce a new strong queen to the hive. This is done to enhance the genetics of the colony.
  3. When a queen becomes underperform or overperform of her responsibility the worker kills her. A bee colony has a democracy where all the members have equal rights. When the queen tries to pressurize anything on the worker bees they won’t tolerate this. They will attack the queen and will kill her.
  4. When a hive become overpopulated the old queen flies away with a portion of the colony. Then build a separate colony in the new place. The old hive still has some workers and drone bees with the newly born queen larvae. During the growth of the new queen larvae, it can die. This will also cause the hive to become queenless.

There could be any other reason for a hive becoming queenless. But these are the major reasons behind it.




Why Is Requeening Important?

You know the queen is the only member of the colony who can mate and lay eggs. So, if there is no queen this means there is no future generation. Also, work among workers is distributed by the pheromone released by the queen.

No queen means no pheromone. As a result, there will be a devastating situation throughout the whole colony.

When a hive become queenless the worker tries to create a new queen from the existing eggs. But it won’t work every time. So, waiting for direct queening is totally risky.

That’s why to save a colony a beekeeper must try to requeen a queenless hive instead waiting for direct queening.




When To Requeen A Queenless Hive?

It depends on you when you want to requeen a queenless hive. But my personal recommendation is to wait at least 48 hours after the hive becomes queenless. When the colony understands the importance of a new queen then you should approach to requeen the hive.

If you see there are frames with eggs and larvae. You can even leave a hive for direct queening for 1 to 2 weeks. After then if you see they were unable to produce a new queen. Then you should introduce them to a new queen.

You should keep in mind that the best time to requeening a queenless hive is during warmer seasons.

During winter it becomes very tough to introduce the new queen to the queenless hive. Because there was less chance that the bees will accept the new queen during winter.

Also, during fall there is started scarcity of food and bees are very aggressive. So, introducing a new queen to the hive during winter can be difficult too.

So, try to introduce a new queen to any queenless hive during late spring, summer, or early fall.




How To Requeen A Queenless Hive In 4 Simple Steps

When I lost a queen from one of my hives for the first time I became very disappointed. Because I see my colony become weaker and bees are reducing with time. The worst thing is my first queenless hive appeared during winter.

Expert beekeeping team in my region from whom I learned beekeeping helpt me to handle this.

I have tried to requeen the hive during winter but failed that time. Because after purchasing a queen cage I directly introduced the queen without consulting with the expert beekeeping team.

There is already a lack of nectar flow during winter. There is also a lack of fertilized eggs. The colony has a really tough time fighting the cold. During this situation, they probably were unable to accept the new queen and kill it.

After a few days, all of the bees died and my hive become abandoned. I was very much frustrated but my beekeeping team inspired me. They show me exactly how to requeen a queenless hive properly.

After then I started a new colony on that previously abandoned beehive. Then whenever any of my colonies become queenless I was able to introduce a new queen to them properly. As a result, I become able to successfully save my colonies.

To requeen a queenless I have I followed 4 simple steps. Now let’s learn about those 4 simple steps that are going to help you to introduce a new queen to your queenless hive.


4 Steps To Requeen A Queenless Hive
4 Steps To Requeen A Queenless Hive


To requeen a queenless hive you will require the following elements.

  1. A new queen cage.
  2. A needle.
  3. Sugar Syrup.
  4. A Protective Gear For Safety Purposes.



Step-1: Find The Reason Behind Becoming The Hive Queenless

It is a must to identify the reason behind the becoming the hive queenless. If the queen is died because of any disease that can spread throughout the colony. There is a high chance that other bees are already infected.

Under these circumstances introducing a new queen won’t be beneficial. The new queen will also get infected and will die. 

So, if the hive has any poisonous disease first cure the disease. If you find your entire colony is poisoned and is not curable. Then you have no choice but to destroy the entire colony.




Step-2: Left The Colony For 1 Week After It Becomes Queenless

When the hive becomes queenless the worker bees require some time to understand what they need to do. As there is no queen so there will be no pheromone. They will feel the need for a new queen for their colony. This will enhance the chance of accepting a new queen by them.

They will try to requeen the hive on their own from the laid eggs by the old queen. But if there is no queen cell they might forcefully select a worker cell to produce a new virgin queen. This may not going to be good.

This will result in a weak queen and a weaker colony. So, during this period you should order a new mated queen.

You can order a new queen from any online store or collect it from your nearest beekeeper.




Step-3: Introduce The New Queen To The Queenless Hive

This is the main step of requeening a queenless hive. You should have a new mated queen cage that you are going to install.


Queen Cage
Queen Cage

After having the new queen cage you shouldn’t keep her so long in the cage. So, try to introduce her in the hive as soon as possible. You can requeen a queenless hive by following the steps below.


  • Kill Existing Queen Brood If Has: You may see that the worker has raised a new queen brood from any of the worker cells. Usually, this type of queen is weak. So, you should take away this type of queen using the needle from the hive. Then squeeze her. It seems rude but for the betterment of the entire colony, you have to sacrifice her.
  • Prepare The Queen Cage: You have a queen cage with a candy plug at the end of it. If the candy plug is covered by plastic or cork remove it using a needle.
  • Spot The Location For The Queen Cage: Now you have to place the new queen cage into the beehive. The perfect place for the queen cage is in the middle of two brood frames. The queen needs to lay eggs for broods and larvae. That’s why you have to place her in the middle of two brood frames. Make sure the candy plug is in the upward direction. Also, ensure there is a small gap between the two neighbor frames.
  • Don’t Open The Queen Cage On Your Own: You should place the queen cage in the capped situation. Otherwise, the worker might not accept the queen and kill her. If needed attach the queen cage at the middle of the brood frame using a rubber band. Make sure you placed the rubber band at the side. Don’t put it above or below the cage. Otherwise, it will cause the queen to die. If possible skip the use of rubber bands.
  • After installing the queen cage close the hive.




Step-4: Feed Sugar Syrup And Live Them Alone

After installing the queen cage the first thing you have to do is to feed them with sugar syrup. Then leave the colony alone on their own.

As they already feel the absence of the queen’s pheromone they are eager to get a new queen. In case, you killed the queen that they raised from fertilized egg of any worker cell. This will make them more eager to get a new queen.

So, when you introduced the new queen cage the queen will start releasing pheromones. The nurse bees around the queen cage will slowly accept the new queen. They will spread the new queen’s pheromone to the entire colony.

So, slowly the entire colony will accept the new queen. Then the nurse bees will eat and chew through the candy plug and release the queen bee.

Then the queen bee will start to lay eggs and produce a stronger generation. So, a queenless hive will become queenright. As a result, you will be able to save a colony from destruction.





How To Tell If Hive Has Accepted The New Queen

The queenless hive members will require some time to accept the new queen. When they accept the new queen they will chew the candy plug. So, the new queen will be released from the cage. This is the main indication that a hive has accepted the new queen.


Queen In A Colony
New Queen Accepted By The Colony


After getting outside the queen’s cage, the queen starts laying eggs on the brood nests. The nurse bees start taking care of the queen and the new larvae. Thus they properly accepted the new queen as their colony member.




How To Requeen A Queenless Hive During Winter

If a hive become queenless during winter they definitely have a worse time. Because it’s so tough for a queenless hive to survive the winter. If possible requeen a queenless hive before winter.

If the hive becomes queenless during winter then wait at least for the spring. If you see the urgency of requeening the hive during winter at least don’t do this on a very cold day.

If you see a day is comparatively warmer then you can requeen the queenless hive. Make sure the temperature is at least around 20° Celcius. Then following the above-discussed method and hive inspection rule requeen the hive.

But after requeening the hive during winter don’t feed the bees sugar syrup. Instead, try to feed them sugar candy or cakes. Don’t feed them any liquid foods.




6 Ways To Get A New Queen To Requeen A Queenless Hive

Hopefully from the previous section, you know how you can requeen a queenless hive. Now I am going to discuss with you the 6 different ways using which you can manage and introduce a new queen to a queenless hive.



1)Splitting A Beehive

When you see that one of your colonies has 2 queens. That means one is the old matured queen and the other one is the newly-born brood queen.

The old queen will kill the new queen when she finds it. So, before the old queen kills the new queen you can split the hive.

Then take a small portion of the split hive containing one of the two queens and introduce them to the queenless hive. Make sure both hives have one queen in each.



2)Combining With Strong Colonies 

You can combine the queenless hive with other strong hives which has a comparatively less population. Make sure to combine the queenless hive with two strong colonies so that they don’t become overpopulated.



3)Converting Worker Larvae Into Queen Larvae

This procedure should follow only when you were unable to manage a mated queen. Using a needle take away one of the worker larvae from the brood cell carefully. Then place her in the place of the queen larvae cell which is empty.



4)Introducing New Broods

You can also introduce a caped brood frame of another hive to the queenless hive. The nurse bees will raise the broods and there is a chance they will raise a new queen from those broods.



5)Purchase With Queen Cage From External Source

This is the safest method of requeening a queenless hive. You can purchase a new strong mated queen from online or from the nearest beekeeping associations. They will provide everything you need to properly install the new queen to the queenless hive.



6)Catch A Swarm And Merge It

You can also catch a swarm of bees from trees or other locations. Then install and merge the swarm containing the queen to the queenless hive. You can even build your own swarm trap to catch a swarm.

If you caught a large swarm then merge a small portion of the swarm with the queen to the queenless hive. And merge the rest with any other colony.



I would always recommend you to get a strong mated queen for requeening a queenless hive. Because a weak queen or converting a worker as a queen is not going to be effective.

A weak queen will lead a colony to become weaker. So, try to get a strong queen from any bee supplier organization to requeen a queenless hive.




Frequently Asked Questions


Can I Introduce A New Queen To A Queenright Hive?

No, you can’t introduce a new queen to a queenright hive. Because every colony can have only one queen.

If a new queen is introduced there will be a fight between the old and new queen. Either one of them or both of them will die.


Can I Requeen A Hive With No Brood?

It’s better to have some broods while requeening a queenless hive. But don’t worry if you don’t have any brood you can still requeen the queenless hive. Place a comb containing eggs from any other beehive in the queenless hive. Then introduce the new queen.


How Long Should A Hive Be Queenless Before Requeening?

A hive should be queenless for at least 48 hours to 2 weeks before requeening. During this period bees will feel the absence of the queen’s pheromone. So, they will be more likely to accept the new queen.


How Late Is Too Late To Requeen A Hive?

If you didn’t requeen a hive within 6 weeks then you are too late. Honey bees have a life span of 5 to 7 weeks.

So, when there is no queen that means there will be no new bees. As a result within 6 to 8 weeks, all the existing bees and broods will die and the colony will be destroyed.


How Long Does It Take A Queenless Hive To Accept A New Queen?

Usually a queenless has accepted a new queen within a few days to up to a week. It will depend on the season and the number of days the hive became queenless. 


Can You Add Eggs To A Queenless Hive?

Yes, you can add a comb with eggs from other hives to a queenless hive. There will be no problem. The nurse bees will try to raise a new queen from these eggs.


How Long Can A Hive Survive Queenless?

A queenless hive won’t survive more than 8 weeks without a queen. Usually, the colony will be destroyed within 6 to 8 weeks if the queen is absent.


Will A Queenless Hive Accept A New Queen?

If you can indirectly introduce the queen with the candy plug then they will definitely accept the new queen. Just make sure you waited for a few days before requeening the queenless hive.

The worker bees will feel the absence of the pheromone released by the queen. As a result, they won’t have other options than accepting the new queen.


Will A Hive Requeen Itself?

If there are any larvae in the queen cell then the nurse bee will feed the larvae with royal jelly. Then this larvae will be raised and the hive will requeen itself. Otherwise, beekeepers need to help them to requeen.


How Long Does It Take For A Hive To Requeen Itself?

It depends on the presence and age of the larvae. If there are any larvae that can be selected as a new queen. Then the nurse bee will requeen the queenless hive within 48 to 72 hours.


Can I Requeen In the Fall?

It is hard to requeen a queenless hive during fall as there is a scarcity of nectar flow. Bees are usually too aggressive during this season. But you can requeen during fall by providing sugar syrup to the bees.

Also, split the hive into two if it is crowdy and merge it with two different queenright hives.


Are Queenless Hives More Aggressive?

Queenless hives are much more aggressive. The entire colony is run by the queen. The work between workers is distributed by the pheromone of the queen.

When there is no queen there is no distribution of work and no new bees. This makes the entire colony very much aggressive.


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