Patterson Method of Queen Rearing
A simple method for raising one batch of Q/Cs
Using a Colony on Single Brood Box
This is my version of a fairly well known method of raising Q/Cs, where a normal honey producing colony becomes
temporarily queenless to start Q/Cs, then reverts to queenright to finish them. Although the original was not my
idea, I have given this version my name for ease of identification and because I have modified it significantly to
suit my management system of using
brood boxes as supers to draw out foundation above a
This method can be an alternative to the queenless colony
for the ordinary beekeeper who doesn't need a continuous supply of Q/Cs. It has the advantage of there not being a brood
break as the queenless colony has. You can also set this colony up later in the season to produce further batches of Q/Cs.
It is very productive as it produces honey, good brood combs and several queens. It means I can use a
group A colony
without having to remove the queen. I often use larvae from the same colony.
- Use a strong colony in a single brood box (box A) that is not preparing to swarm. There should be a brood box (box B)
that is being used as a super at least half filled with honey, with preferably some unsealed, above a queen excluder. This
could come from another colony. You could shake the bees out, but they rarely fight. There may be shallow supers too.
- Place a fresh floor several feet away from the colony, if more than 6 feet the direction doesn't matter. If closer, put
the floor to one side of the colony and a bit further back, with the entrance facing the opposite direction.
- Remove any supers and put box A onto the new floor.
- Put box B on the original floor with entrance in original direction.
- Remove five frames with least honey in from box B, leaving gap in the middle with unsealed food towards the gap.
- Take four frames with adhering bees and brood in all stages from box A. Put in box B, two each side, leaving gap in the
middle of the box.
- Shake a couple of frames of bees from frames of brood in box A into box B. The queen must stay in box A.
- Put supers back on top of box B.
- Fill box A with combs from box B. Replace the queen excluder on box A. Close up both "hives".
- After 3-4 hours the now queenless bees in box B will be frantic. Insert a frame of larvae.
- Check 2-4 hours later and replace any rejects.
- About 24 hours after inserting the larvae lift box B, put box A back on original floor. Replace box B on top above the