I want to replace a queen in a swarm hive--Do I leave the hive queenless at all? How long can I keep the new queen in her cage?

Q: I received my 2 queens in the mail today and they were in great shape. I am a 2nd year beekeeper, and I want to replace a queen in a swarm hive because she (or her daughters) are quite aggressive. My questions are:

  1. Do I remove the old queen and leave the hive without a queen for a day, and then insert the cage, or do I put the new queen in the cage in the hive right away?

  2. The weather here has turned brutally hot! Today it is 104° F! We never get this type of hot weather in Indiana. Is it safe to the “girls” to get into the hive at this temperature? How long can I keep the queen in her cage? I could get in the hive in the morning, but this hive will consume me.

A: We again turned to Jane for this question, as she’s had one of those hives. She shared that when she elected to requeen that hive she surprisingly found it queenless.

Jane’s advice: You want the hive to be queenless for at least 24 hours—suit up well and check the gloves and veil twice!

When you remove the queen, pinch her against the replacement queen; assure you give the caged queen a drop of water daily.

Good luck. They do get better (generally it takes about six weeks) but if you have many hives that gene pool may have spread a bit due to drones mating with other queens. I have a corner that I often dread going into; thank goodness they are great honey producers. It makes it a bit more tolerable.

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