Steve Taber's Method
Introduction of queens using Steve Taber's method
In his book on "Breeding Super Bees", Steve Taber gives a method that has been proved successful many times by John Dews. John has not lost a queen using his version of this method that is described below.
The first step of course is to remove the existing queen, and at the same time check that there are no queen cells in the hive. (A nucleus hive can be used if preferred and the nuc united to a full stock later.)
The new queen is introduced using a Butler Cage with the entrance bunged up so the bees cannot liberate the queen. The cage is placed on top of the one of the brood frames under a glass quilt (no supers are used during this operation). The glass quilt is modified by adding additional wood strips of sufficient thickness that allows the bees to climb over the top of the cage. These strips should be the same thickness as the cage, and can be fixed permanently, the quilt being turned over for normal use. (A glass quilt is not essential but it avoids having to lift the quilt to see what the behaviour of the bees is.)
Observation from time to time of the way the bees are behaving towards the queen, will determine when the queen can be liberated without danger of being killed by the colony. This may be several days, in fact it can take up to two weeks in some cases.
The behaviour one is looking for that indicates it is safe to liberate the queen is non-aggression. That is the bees are not making the cage look like a hedgehog and biting the wires and trying to attack the queen. While in this mood the bees can bite the pads off the queen's feet inflicting damage that will lead to her being replaced early on in her life. For this reason it pays to have the Butler cage fitted with a piece of plastic at one end to give the queen a refuge that she can get her feet out of the way. The cage should be aligned along the frame top as this will also allow the queen to get her feet out of the way of the bees.
The queen will beg for food and the bees will feed her so there is no need to worry about food for her.
On the original instruction sheet there was a second method describing queen introduction Using a Nucleus. For clarity and convenience I have made that a separate page. R.P.