Queen rearing

If you’re raising bees, it only makes sense to be proficient in rearing new queens to raise stock levels, for requeening, and/or for sale.

There are many different paths to explore in this endeavor, however for the numbers I’m looking to generate, the Grafting method used in conjunction with a Cell Builder does quite nicely. Putting 30-50 grafted queen cups (I use JZBZ mostly) into a hopelessly queenless deep/med combo and double deep, then add another 6-8 deeps of nurse bees, and those cups get quickly filled and finished into beautiful “peanuts”! Maximum resources available to A LOT of very motivated bees produces more visits to the cells, and thus bigger healthier queens.

The straight up Doolittle method works well enough for many beeks, but my cups were always finished smaller and the pupae were smaller. The “peanuts” were maybe 2-4 cm and not always filled enough with jelly (IMHO). Then I hit upon Michael Palmer’s variant, and I have had much much better results! Check out some of his videos, and also another beek fan of Palmer’s, Richard Noel does a very nice job of summing up the Palmer Cell Builder process.

The majority of the queen’s brood area is shaken into the cell builder. This base is comprised of unsealed brood and contains the nurse bees too. Remember to place the sealed brood below the excluder 10 days before doing your grafting. Make sure that all are emerged and the queen re-layed it, so now it’s all open brood. When shaking these 5 or 6 frames of bees into the cell builder, make absolutely sure there are no queen. I shake them through an excluder shaker box (“shaker box”), for efficiency and to be sure. After shaking, close both the queen’s hive and the cell builder.

Using the “shaker box”, [a deep body with metal excluder duct taped/screwed to bottom. Top of box also duct taped down to a depth of 2″. Around interior base with one band of duct 2″ tape] .Bees seems to dislike duct tape and move off away from it quicker than just a hive body. It makes this go much faster, especuially when you’re going through more than 20 boxes for multiple cell builders. Some of my queens are pretty fast and tricky, and some days I’m just slower. I highly recommend adding one of these to your aresenal. Best to use a deep bodiy and a metal, or metal/wood combo excluder. Do not use a plastic excluder if at all possible.

“What have you created? A hopelessly queenless colony with only sealed and emerging bees. This colony is stocked to overflowing with young bees. It has all the field bees for added nutritional resources. The freak! Fly around the yard. Crawl all over the hive and out onto the ground. Listen hard…you’ll almost hear them cry. And that’s what you want.” — Michael Palmer

Five or six days later, the old queen and her colony can be re-united with the cell builder. Remove the cell builder from the stand. Move the queen’s colony back up and onto the stand. Remove the cover and add an excluder.

Place the cell builder on the excluder, and the supers on top.

On day 10 (or 11 in colder wet Spring) after grafting, the cells are ready to use.



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