The title seems a rather derogatory one, but is taken from a similar title of a series of books on computers with titles such as, "Word 6 for Dummies". These excellent books set out in simple terms the actions required to carry out particular functions. Hopefully this article will do the same with queen introduction. The aim being to offer straightforward instructions in separate sections that can be used as stand alone items or used in conjunction with other sections.
So there's to be a Royal Execution !
You've really decided the old girl has got to go. But is she still there or has she stolen a march on you and decamped with a swarm?
Don't wait until the new queen arrives before checking the colony to see if the queen is still there. If she has not been marked then do it now, so that when the time comes to give her the chop you can easily find her.
Marking the Queen
Its not much use pinning medals on the condemned royal majesty if you're going to send her to the guillotine.
So don't bother with those fancy discs with numbers on. Just get a pot of "Tippex" with the green label that says "solvent free". It has a nice little brush inside which is ideal for whitewashing the queen's thorax. If you're squeamish about picking her up you can try giving her a dab while she is running about the comb. If your aim is not good you might have what looks like a white winged angel running across the comb, but at least you will not have much trouble finding her when the time comes.
Entertaining the new Queen and her Courtiers
The royal visitor has arrived and you are just off to work, no time to carry out the introductions to her new subjects, so what is to be done?
The cage with the queen and her attendants will be in a cage equipped with candy, so they are O.K. for food. A drink after a journey is always welcome, so place the cage on a plate ensuring that the underside is one with the slots or mesh on it. Dip your fingers in some clean water and dribble a few drops on to the plate and slide the cage over them. I hope you washed your hands first. A warm dark cupboard is ideal for the royal party until you get back home.
The last rites
There is no easy way to tell the condemned that zero hour is here, so my advice is don't say a word, just sneak up behind her, grab her and squash her firmly between finger and thumb. The sadists among you will leave the body on the floor of the hive for the sorrowing followers to weep over, and the downright sentimentalists will have a proper funeral with all the trimmings. The callous ones like me will toss her aside like a used doll.
Ascent to the Throne
The Queen is dead, long live the Queen.
The queen's carriage in which she has travelled in her journey to reach you, may be a simple travelling cage or one that can also be used as an introduction cage. If it is not a proper introduction cage then it is necessary to transfer the queen into one. See the illustration of a JZBZ cage suitable for introduction of queens. The queen should be alone in the cage when it is placed in the hive, you don't want any of that riff raff that came with her, they must be removed. Do this in a room in front of a window making sure that doors and windows are closed, these young queens are flighty madams and will depart without as much as saying goodbye if you give them the chance. If she is a shy young thing she may not leave the cage, but once the attendants are out she will feel lonely and will then attempt to leave. Before she can do so close the cap on the cage. If she does come out with the workers she will alight on the window pane. Shake out any other workers left in the cage, then place the cage in front of her and shepherd her in with the fingers on either side of her.
The tube with the candy in it must be full of candy, only when this is eaten can the queen enter her new domain. However this must not occur too soon, so leave the cap on the tube for 24 hours after inserting the cage in the colony. You will of course put it in the brood box below the queen excluder rather than above it won't you? Suspend it with a bit of fine wire and hold it in place with a drawing pin pinned to the top of a frame. After 24 hours remove the cap off the candy tube and also remove the thin strip of plastic at the opposite end to make a queen excluder sized entrance that will allow workers in to meet the queen. Plug this with a small piece of candy, this is both to advertise the entrance and to delay entry for a short while. This is the advance party, strictly limited to about 8 or 9 places, a sort of ticket only affair, and you are not invited, keep out now for 7 days before looking to see if all is well. To interfere any earlier is inviting trouble, for the heavy mob have been known to smother the queen by "balling" her.
Has the Queen been Accepted?
Or are there plots afoot to supersede her?
You call to pay your respects to the new queen after one week. Of course you recognise her at once, after all it was you that was responsible for that fancy coloured tiara, the dot of coloured paint on her thorax that gives the game away about how old she is. At one time of course a lady's age was her own business, but etiquette has gone to the dogs. Look for eggs, there are some? good. They must be hers as the old queen's eggs hatched after 3 days and she's been long gone. But if the plotters are thinking of staging a coup then preparations will be afoot to start queen cells. Knock these off, every single one, miss one at your peril, or rather at the new queen's expense. This must be repeated again 7 days later, for the crafty little devils have been known to raise queen cells from the new queens offspring, which is sinking to really low levels of depravity indeed. If you have come through this far you can give yourself a pat on the back, you've created a new realm, a new dynasty that could reign for two or three years, or more if you are one of those Royalists that show loyalty to a monarch for ages and ages.