While introducing a queen bee to a hive, might take time. But exactly how long is it safe to wait before the colony is at risk? Now you might wonder-
How long can a queen bee live in a cage?
This can depend on a few factors. First, you need to consider why the queen bee is in a separate cage. Is it for a genetic change, to split it, or simply to requeen the hive? You also need to consider if the queen bee is a virgin or mated.
So, these are basically the simple first observations. To know more in detail, follow along!
Source: Curbstone Valley
Why A New Queen Has to Live In A Separate Cage?
There are a few reasons for the queen bee to live in a separate cage. This might be because you want to split the hive or requeen it. Moreover at times, to change the genetics the queen has to live separately!
Want to know in detail? Here are the reasons why it is done-
Reason 1: You Want to Split The Hive
In case you want to split the hive, you would need a new virgin queen bee. If the attendants in the hive are healthy, it’s ready for the change. Make sure to put a drop of water to maintain a balanced viscosity. But if the attendants start to die, you need to speed up the process.
Reason 2: A Queenless Or Failing Hive Needs Requeening
If the queen bee has passed away, requeening with a virgin queen bee is the ultimate solution. Otherwise, you might lose the hive.
Queen bees mainly breed fertilized eggs to hatch and increase colonies. Without new bees, there wouldn’t be any working bees. Moreover, the swarms won’t have any authority, hence causing chaos.
Reason 3: A Change of Genetics
Each bee in a colony is connected to the queen either with haploid or diploid DNA. This DNA helps to separate the queen from the workers and helps to maintain the community. So this change affects when the queen is changed.
Basically, these are the reasons a queen has to stay separately before shifting to the hive.
The Longest Queen Bee Survives for in Cage
The longest queen bees can live in an isolated cage is 7 days. However, it needs proper hydration, nutrition, and a place to stay healthy. It also needs to maintain contact with worker bees.
The attendants can last up to 14-20 days without the queen bee. The queens can last in cages for a week or month. However, there are other factors in play that you’ve to consider.
How Long Can a Mated Queen Bee Live Without Attendants?
The mated queen bee can last 3-5 days without attendants. The time for the mated queen bee is less. This is because they need to breed to complete the cycle. Otherwise, it might die faster.
How Long Can a Virgin Queen Bee Live Alone?
Yes, a virgin bee can survive a minimum of 14 days alone. The reason is that it stays in the cocoon before being eligible to give birth. On rare occasions, it can span up to a month or so
How Long Can a Queen Bee Live Without Food?
The queen bee can last up to 24 hours without food, specifically pollen or nectar. However improper nutrition and dehydration can cause the untimely death of the caged bee. Hence you need to feed them the candy that comes in the cage and water.
Source: Wildflower Meadows
Do We Recommend 7 Days to Keep the Queen?
It can be recommended that the queen can last up to 7 days in the case. However, it’s healthier to transfer it from the cage on the 3rd or 4th day. Oftentimes, these bees can last anywhere between a week to a month with proper care.
However, we don’t strongly recommend the 7-day period due to some reasons. First, the bees tend to age the longer you wait. This might make it too late for the reproduction cycle. Hence breaking the growth of the colony.
Another reason why you should transfer early is for better adjustment. This is because the long gap can make it harder for the queen bee to adapt to the hive. So it’ll be easier for the younger queen bee to adapt hence fewer rejection possibilities by the swarm.
Thus, it’s better to transfer the queen bee into the hive as early as possible. In this way, they can start their work and produce more bees quickly.
Now, let’s see what happens if we keep the queen waiting.
Why Don’t Let The Queen Wait Too Long?
It’s better to not keep the queen waiting for long. This is because the colony without the queen might end up in chaos and have no queen bee for the swarm.
Also, if it’s mated there’s a chance it might die. Or, it might also cause new bees from becoming worker bees and ruin the colony. So keeping away the queen may cause some trouble.
Taking Proper Care of Queen While Stored
During shipment or separation of the queen bee, proper care needs to be provided. You have to ensure the safety of the bee so that they are ready to rule over the colony!
Supply Enough Water
You have to supply enough water for the queen bee by creating a watering station for bees. Sprinkle a drop of water or two twice a day to keep the queen bee hydrated.
Make sure that the droplets are tiny and fall on the screen. Too much water may chill your bees and make them messy.
Keep The Cage Warm and Dry
The cage should be kept warm, dry, and dark place, maintaining a temperature of 15-38℃.
But applying too much heat may suffocate and dehydrate the bee causing a heat stroke.
Keep The Airflow Right
We need to keep the airflow at a medium level. While applying anesthesia, we have to ensure if the queen bee is aerated sufficiently. Make sure that the container contains enough holes for the bee to have a breathing room.
Change The Q-tip Regularly
The Q-Tip is usually used in pollination and to clean the bee cages. Thus after every use, it has to be changed.
To use it, soak the tips in water, and lay them on top of the screened cage. This helps to get rid of the air. Make sure to do it twice a day.
Change The Attendants & Nurses
You have to change the worker and the attendant bees every 7-11 days. The nurses need to be changed between 14- 30 days or alternated.
Keep A Good Amount of Larvae In The Cage
We need to keep around 15 to 30 larvae in the cage. So, we have a backup queen bee in a cage to get the colony running every time the other one fails.
Source: Beekeeping Insider
Now, as we know the timespan a queen bee lasts in a cage, we can plan accordingly!
Question: How to tell if a hive has accepted a new queen?
Answer: Open the cage of the queen first. Check if the hive attracts the nurse bees towards the cage. Now, if you gently move the bee aside, then the swarm will move aside too. This means they’ve accepted the queen.
Question: How many years can a queen bee live?
Answer: The queen bee can live up to 3-6 years if kept in natural habitat unharmed. The queen bees mainly have less time after they mate. They can stay alive for the next 3-5 days after reproducing.
Question: How long can you bank a queen bee?
Answer: The queen bee can be banked for 1-2 weeks. However, this can be stretched longer and kept for a longer period of time. Now you can bank your queen bee accordingly.
Question: What to do if the queen bee is dead in a cage?
Answer: First, you have to get the other bees out carefully through the other end of the cork. Then use a tweezer to get the dead bee out. Now install the new queen bee by following the installation process.
This brings us to the end of this segment. We hope you now know how long can a queen bee live in a cage. Have a fun time with your beehives.
We wish you very good luck!