In assessing the hives in preparation for Winter, I found one had become Queen-less and the colony was on the slide

As a result they had become very angry bees and inspecting the hive was not easy.

In fact it was like Pearl Harbour, with bees dive bombing me and pinging off my veil.

I then confirmed this by using a “test” frame. This meant putting a frame of brood and eggs into the suspect hive.

Five days later, the colony had started to create a new queen cell on the frame which confirmed my suspicions.

They were still pretty narked bees.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInstead of waiting a further few weeks for this queen to emerge and then mate – always dodgy this time of year – I decided to order a new mated Queen from Ricky Wilson in Cardigan in an attempt to save the colony.

The new Queen arrived in the post the next day in her own small cage along with 6-7 worker bees to look after her.

The process is fairly straightforward:

Each cage is sealed with a block of fondant. The cage is placed into the hive by pressing it into the side of the centre brood frame.

The existing colony eat their way into the cage via the fondant plug to free the new queen. This usually takes a few days, by which time the new queen’s scent should have been accepted by the existing colony.

This lessens the chance of the colony killing their new queen. It also helps to confuse the bees by squirting a few doses of deodorant over the hive!

Three weeks later – the hive had accepted the new queen and she had begun to lay.


Here is the empty cage and new brood being created.



The bees were transformed and much nicer to me…


Phew!  Now this colony has a chance to build up in strength ready for Winter.

I will reassess them in a fortnight.