Smith Lake Farm participates in the Comox Valley Collaborative Queen Rearing Project. We are firmly committed to improving local stock through local breeding. This means making local queens available throughout the breeding season (May through September). These queens will have been reared either at Smith Lake Farm or at the apiary of one of the collaborators.
Approximately the third week in June we will have queen cells available for the requeening of your hive. This is appropriate for hives entering their second or third winter. These cells are bred by us using our best stock for the purpose of setting up the nucleus hives that are destined to become overwintered hives in the next season. At this time of year requeening with queen cells is very simple and 80 percent successful.
Queen Cell for Requeening Your Hive
Requeening with a queen cell is relatively simple.In order to do this, remove your old queen to a small nucleus box with the frame she was on and the adhering bees. The foragers will fly back to the hive but the nurse bees will stay with her. Move one other frame of bees with pollen and brood, preferably capped. Feed. The old queen is your insurance against a failure of the queen cell queen.
Two hours later insert the queen cell into the now queenless hive. Acceptance is almost guaranteed, but she does have to successfully complete a mating flight and return to your hive so sometimes there are problems.
Normally you should expect to see evidence of a laying queen about ten days later, but inclement weather can delay this process. At the ten-day check if you do not see evidence of a laying queen you should also be looking for drawn queen cells. Your girls may have taken the process into their own hands. If there is no evidence of a laying queen at 20 days, you can combine the nucleus hive that holds your old queen back with main hive.
You will then have to consider finding a mated queen from some other source.
If there is a new queen in your main hive you have the option of reuniting the bees in the nucleus hive with the principal hive (which requires killing the old Queen), or you could consider carrying the old queen through the winter in the nucleus hive. Speak to your mentor about the pros and cons of this and how to do it.