Improved technique for introducing four-day old virgin queens to mating hives that uses artificial and natural queen cells for introduction
Juan Antonio Perez-Sato,William O H Hughes, Margaret J Couvillon, Francis L W Ratnieks
We compared the acceptance of 4-day old virgin queens introduced into mating nucleus hives using natural and artificial queen cells versus a wooden 3-hole mailing cage, a standard introduction method. The queen cell methods gave high acceptance (95% and 93% for natural and artificial, respectively) even though the queen was released from the queen cell approximately 10 minutes after being introduced into the mating hive. By contrast, success using mailing cages was significantly lower (47% and 73%) when the queen was released from her cage after 1 hour or 48 hours, respectively. The equal success rates of the reused and artificial queen cells suggests that high success is not due to chemicals present in natural queen cells transferring to the queens. To further investigate why queen cells give higher introduction success than cages, we introduced virgin queens into queenless observation hives.Workers attacked only 1 of 12 queens leaving a queen cell whereas 5 out of 6 queens leaving a cage were attacked.