Colony Splits

Colony Split

Colony Splits
Re-queening Colonies with Russian Queens

Yes, you can re-queen an Italian colony or Carniolan colony with a Russian queen but the process requires attention and skill.

Introducing a Russian queen is more difficult than other honeybee races. The success rate is poor without a clear understanding about the behavioral differences of Russians. Introducing a queen between two frames and then removing the plug to direct release her after 3 days, as with other bee breeds, will not be successful. Direct releasing her, more often than not, will fail.  Russian queens emit a strong pheromone. Most colonies need to slowly get use to the new smell. The following instructions are involved but by following them you will increase your chances for success. 


  • Remove 5 frames with workers, nurse bees, brood and honey/pollen (4 days old or older).
  • Do not include any cells containing eggs or 3 day old larvae.
  • Place the 5 frames in a nuc box.
  • Take the nuc box 2 miles away and open the entrance.
  • Return the nuc box to its original location after 24 hours (don’t exceed 72 hours).
  • Transport bees back home when it’s dark outside. Remember foragers are in the field during the day.
  • Discard any Russian attendants that come with the queen shipment.
  • Do not remove the candy plug or direct release the queen. Let the Italian bees release her.
  • Place the caged Russian queen into the nuc
  • Wait up to 10 days to make sure your Russian queen is laying.
  • Assess, do not proceed unless you have successfully introduced your queen.


  • Make the Italian colony queenless.
  • Wait 3 days letting the queenless Italian colony sit. You are increasing the odds that the old colony will not produce its own Italian queen.
  • Check all frames for queen cells that may be started during the 3 day waiting period. Destroy them.
  • Place the frames from the nuc box into an empty super.
  • Place the super above the Italian colony and separate them with a double screen.
  • During the next inspection remove the double screen and again check for and remove any queen cells.

In 21 days


There are other methods of requeening. David R. Tarpy, Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University and Jeffrey Lee, Commercial Beekeeper, Lee’s Bees, Mebane, NC has a detailed paper written on the differences between Russian and Italian honey bees. Steps to re-queen are on page 3. The paper outlines the steps to re-queening an Italian colony with a Russian queen.