Mated Queen Introductions
Updated: Feb 7
For those who may not know what a push in cage is, it is used for queen introduction and allows the queen to lay during the introduction process. This increases the queens pheromones which generates a higher level of acceptance. I use these for the queens I produce and for breeder queens that can cost upwards of $1,200.00 apiece. So far, out of the hundred some queens I have used this method on, I only lost one queen to date. It happened during introduction because I was trying to get her into the cage in the field vs. in the car, house or queen muff. Because of this, I recommend you open the cage you received the queen in and place the queen in the push in cage while in a space that you can catch the queen if she flies away.
I make my cages 3.5”X6.5”X.75”. This is enough space for the queen to lay a nice amount of brood and deep enough that the cage can penetrate the comb to the foundation while still giving enough space for the queen to walk around and not get molested by workers outside the cage. I prefer to solder the corners of my cages to make them strong and secure. During this process, it’s important to push the cage against the table and confirm it sits flat.
In an ideal situation you would place the cage over comb that contains all of the following:
Ready to emerge brood
Empty cells for the queen to lay in
The reality is that you can use empty comb and fill 10 cells with honey/syrup using a chopstick or syringe. This gives the queen a nice snack before the workers begin feeding her. Once you have the ideal spot set up, take a razor knife and trace the perimeter of the cage into the comb making sure you go all the way down to the foundation. This allows the cage to be pushed through the comb to the foundation easily. It the cage is not in contact with the foundation, the workers can burrow under the cage and attack the queen. For this reason, do not use a push in cage on a foundationless frame.
Now you are ready to place your queen under the cage and press the cage in. For your last step, place 3-4 heavy rubber bands around the frame, crossing the cage as a safety measure. Place the queen frame between two brood frames with enough space that the workers can access the face of the cage. After 4-5 nights have passed, remove the queen frame, inspect for eggs in the cage, find any queen cells the colony may have started and cull them, cut the rubber bands off and release the queen. If the workers ball her, pick her up and place her back under the cage. I have not had issues with queens getting balled, but it is worth having a plan in case the situation occurs.
Thanks for supporting local beekeeping,
Lloyd St. Bees