2.3.2. Shipment of queens

Queen cages for shipment by mail are usually made from plastic and are offered in a variety of sizes and shapes. The most popular cage has two compartments; the larger one is used to house the queen and 6-12 attendant worker bees, while the smaller one is filled with queen candy to provide food during shipping. If the shipping cages are used to introduce the queen into a colony, a small hole can be created in the end of the candy compartment through which the workers from the hive can slowly reach and free the queen. Several cages can be packed together if care is taken that the queens cannot reach each other through the screened parts. The stack of cages can be placed in an envelope with ventilation holes punched in it and labelled “Live bees” and “Protect against sunshine”.

Candy for queen cages should contain little water but nevertheless remain soft. A mixture of powder sugar with about 20 % honey (weight : weight) gives suitable results. Whilst is not necessary to give water to queens during transport, it is a good idea to place a drop of water on the screen of a queen cage as soon as it is received. Queens should be introduced to colonies as soon as possible after shipment. As far as possible, caged queens should be kept in a dark place with a medium and stable temperature.