Honey bees live and die for their queen, but what happens when the queen is dead?
They carry on. They continue to work, build, and forage for the hive even though the outlook is bleak. If they have eggs that are young enough, the workers can fill a cell with a special type of honey called “royal jelly”. This royal jelly can transform a normal worker bee egg into a queen.
In my situation, the hive is brand new, and there are no eggs available to make a new queen. Thankfully, Mike Radford from Northwest Bee Supply was in the area and was able to meetup with me to give me a new queen.
I met Mike just down the street, and he pulled a queen out of his breast pocket and handed it over. Mike always keeps a queen in his pocket, just in case a situation like this happens. A good guy to know as a beekeeper!
The queen comes in a queen cage (seen above) that must be put into the hive for at least 4 days before releasing her. This is so the hive has time to accept her as their new queen.
A technique I use in this video is to crush the dead queen on the new queen’s cage. This is to simulate a fight to the death with the old queen and the dead queen’s pheromones are left on top of on the new queens pheromones.
The idea is that the workers assume this new queen showed up and killed the old queen, so they should now follow this new, more powerful, queen.
I’ll return in 4 days to pop the cork out of her cage and release her. By that time, the pheromones she releases will have had time to propagate throughout the hive, and she will be the new queen. Long live Queen Sunny II!