Last week Ted and I decided to requeen one of our hives. The queen, an Italian from last year’s packages, had stopped laying well. It seemed that the hive was cleaning out some of the larvae, and her daughters weren’t particularly hygenic, leaving some chalk brood in the hive. One of the local beekeepers offers locally mated queens from Vermont stock and from Gorst stock, we thought we’d replace her with one of those queens.
We prudently kept the old queen during the requeening process. That meant catching her and putting her in a cage along with several attendant bees to keep her fed. Ted made a queen cage for this purpose. So you put the queen in, then open the cage to let in an attendant, which risks the queen flying back out again. Ted solved this problem by creating a queen cage with a vestibule. You put the bee in, close the outer hole, then raise the little screen separating the two sections. A toothpick locks the screen in place to make sure it doesn’t just fall open. Such a simple and elegant solution!