How to Requeen a Hive: Steps and Requirements

From time to time, beekeepers need to requeen their hives to keep them running. The requeening process requires skills, adequate planning, and careful management. However, beginners may lack the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out the process. Therefore, they inquire from experienced beekeepers and professionals to quickly and successfully carry out the task.

One way of requeening a hive is by placing a frame with fresh eggs or young larva and placing them in a queenless colony. You can also use the ‘moving to the center’ or ‘Linton Briggs’ methods to remove the old queen and the direct and indirect methods to requeen a hive. Ensure a new quality queen.

With a new queen, the hive will be rejuvenated with new brood, more robust bees, and generally a healtheir and more vibrant hive than before.

How to Requeen a Hive

What is Requeening?

Requeening is the process of replacing a queen bee with another queen in a hive. You may opt to replace a queen due to an aggressive, infertile, and too large a hive. Also, you may opt to requeen when a hive produces little honey or when you want to introduce new genetics. However, requeening is different from supplying a hive with a new queen. When you provide a hive with a new queen, you give a queen to a queenless brood of bees.

How to Requeen a Hive

To requeen a hive, you need to find the old queen before going further. Here are possible methods of finding the old queen:

Moving to the Centre Method

The queen’s primary task is to lay eggs. Therefore, she is found in the brood nest of your colony. So, you can effectively find her by the use of the following easy steps:

  1. With the help of a smoker, smoke 1-3 puffs to the brood and take off queen excluders and honey super.
  2. Separate the frames in the middle of the brood box.
  3. Get off the burr comb by scraping it on the side of the top bar.
  4. Carefully remove one frame from the middle, ensuring you don’t crush the bees.
  5. Slowly scan on the sides of the frame (take about 2 minutes in a frame). After reviewing a frame, place it in a spare box and scan the next frame.

The queen can be found on the bottom of the board or the wall of the hive’s body. You can mostly find her in the center of the brood nest on a frame with eggs. It would be best if you are fast since the old queen can hide. 

You can have an empty cage at hand for recycling her if she has good qualities or brood patterns. After finding her, remove bees off the combs, check for disease, scratch honey at the corners to create a new egg-laying space, manipulate the combs, remove honey in the box and replace it with empty brood combs. 

Finally, introduce the cage and mark the box’s front with a code, date, and breeder.

Linton Briggs Method

Also known as go the outside or light barrier method, this method involves the following steps:

  1. Secure an empty box and place it next to the hive.
  2. With the help of a smoker, smoke 1-3 puffs to the brood and take off queen excluders and honey super.
  3. With minimum sunlight exposure, remove the furthest outside frame and check for the queen before placing her in the empty box.
  4. Next, remove the closest outside frame towards you and check out for the queen before placing her in the spare box. Though it is not usual to find the queen in the outer frames, it is possible by removing the frames as you create a light barrier between the hive wall and the next frame. This will restrain the queen to the rest frames.
  5. Look down the face of the frame before scanning the sides of the frames close to you. Linton suggests that the queen stands taller than other bees and can be spotted in a fraction of a minute on the face of the frame before removing it. 
  6. Repeat the steps from step 3 to the remaining frames until you spot the queen.

Throughout the process, be careful not to damage other bees or the hive in general.

Methods of Installing the New Queen

Now that you have found the old queen, the are two methods of installing a new queen, mainly direct and indirect. Let’s see how each process works:

Direct Release

The direct release method entails releasing the new queen to the hive immediately. This is a horrible idea as she will be killed instantly unless the worker bees are desperate and queenless. 

Indirect Release

This is the best method of introducing a new queen to the brood. The indirect release involves a slow introduction of the new queen to the colony to give the bees time to accept her. The hive must have enough bees to maintain the hive life when requeening for the best results. It is an excellent measure to give a frame of brood to a weak colony. This option works if you have other hives. 

The old queen should have been removed at least one day ago or would have left earlier. If you find any queen cells, remove them or transfer them to a different hive that needs help.

Now, place your queen cage between two frames in the hive. Suitably, choose the central part if the hive has no brood present or between frames within the area of the brood. Make sure you moved the bees properly without killing them whether it’s from one hive or the store.

If the candy end faces downwards, worker bees inside the cage may die, blocking the exit. Therefore, the candy end should face upwards as a preventive measure of dead bees blocking the exit.

Place the cage horizontally if you live in a scorching area to prevent the candy from melting. After a few days, the candy is consumed, releasing bees inside.

To fit a wooden cage in a mature hive, you need to push the cage slightly below the top bars and smoothly squeeze the frames together to hold the cage in position.

Always ensure the exit hole is open between the top bars to create an exit way for bees once the candy is gone. However, this will leave a more significant gap between frames than usual, but it’s right. You need to remove the cage after a few days.

This procedure works even with plastic cages. However, push the frames close together to hold the candy exit tube between the wooden parts of the frames.

When requeening, always ensure you feed your bees even when there is a nectar flow. Bees are more receptive to a replacement when there is plenty of food.

Queen Bee Acceptance

If you check back into the hive after requeening it and see the new queen walking around among the bees r newly-laid eggs, it means she has been accepted by the hive. Otherwise, the bees would kill her if they rejected her. Make sure you open the hive at the right time of day when it’s warm enough not to harm the bees.

Qualities of a Good Queen Bee

Here are some noticeable traits of a good queen bee:

  • Movement: Well-mated queen bees should move smoothly across the frame and settle fairly.
  • Laying Pattern: Queen bees should lay their eggs/grubs in vast areas with eggs/grubs of the same or very comparable age. They should be able to swiftly switch to fresh, drawn, and clean frames and set them up during the season.
  • Size and Shape: Queen bees should be 1.5 to 2 times longer than worker bees. 
  • Quick Building up and shutting down: Queen bees should organize and increase their laying during warm weather. Also, queen bees should slow down their laying when seasons begin cooling to minimize the hive population.

Without these qualities, the queen bee won’t be a good one. 

Why Should You Requeen the Hive?

Here are common reasons for queen replacement:

  • When the current queen is over 2 years old.
  • When the queen has a destructive pattern of the worker brood.
  • When the queen is infertile.
  • When the beekeeper is aiming to introduce new genetics.

If there are a majority of these reasons, you can prepare to requeen the hive. 

When Should You Requeen the Hive?

You can conveniently replace the queen during a warm month if the colony is in dire need. Although, you can’t wait when the colony is in danger of collapsing on some occasions. If you know your bee calendar properly, the same warm months used to check on the hive are the requeening months.

The late spring into early summer is one of the best times to requeen a hive. During this time, a mated queen is easy to obtain and purchase. The spring rush is over to early summer, making availability less sure. Requeening during summer gives the queen several months for establishment before winter. Also, if you encounter challenges, you have time to attempt again.


Generally, requeening is too simple since you only need to find a new fertile queen, remove the old queen, and install the new queen suitably using the indirect release method.

Also, always ensure you choose the right season for requeening to ensure the availability of the queen. Notably, always replace the queen when the need arises. Now, with this helpful guide, you can get started to requeen your hive successfully.


University of Florida. Requeening a Beehive.


Utah State University. Splitting the Hive.

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