Cell Starter and Finisher Colony
Peter Edwards's method of raising queen cells
Peter Edwards is a successful beekeeper and experienced queen rearer from Stratford - upon - Avon, keeping over 100 colonies of dark native type bees. He has kindly given me his method of raising a batch of queen cells as set out below.
There are elements of this method that are the same or similar to other methods and for the inexperienced queen rearer I think it would be advisable to stick to the instructions to avoid possible failure. R.P.
Peter Edwards's Method.
- Build strong colony on double brood. This could be a honey producing colony with supers on. For ease of description these will be called bottom box (A) and top box (B).
- Put Q/E between boxes and Q in bottom box (A) nine days before introducing larvae.
On the day larvae are introduced, the top box (B) has all sealed brood.
- Remove bottom box (A) with Q to another site. If 3 or more feet away entrance direction doesn't matter. If close to the original stand face the entrance in the opposite direction, so the flying bees will go in (B).
- Remove a frame in (B) to make room for your frame of larvae. Frames can be rearranged so the gap is in the centre, surrounded by brood and pollen.
- Shake extra young bees (but not Q!) from box (A) into box (B).
- Replace any supers on box (B).
- Close both boxes.
You now have a very strong, totally queenless hive (B) on the original stand, that is bolstered by returning flying bees from (A).
- Leave a couple of hours, by which time they will be frantic and the bees will have clustered in the gap in (B).
- Give frame of larvae from your chosen method. The frame can be gently lowered into the gap without damaging the bees.
- Next day put colony back together with Q below Q/E in bottom box (A) and the box with the larvae (B) over the Q/E. Supers on top.
- Feed if no flow.
When the Q/Cs are distributed the colony can be returned to honey production by placing the Q/E above box (B).
As of 09-04-2015 I have not used this method, although it seems very simple. I will make two
- If you are feeding, then it needs to have been started 4-5 days before the larvae are introduced, so the nurse bees are
producing plenty of brood food.
- When the Q/Cs are removed from the top box there is unlikely to be much unsealed brood, putting the colony in the same
position as when it was separated. I think you can run a second batch at that stage. You could raise combs of brood from the
lower box when putting the boxes back together, so keeping the colony producing queens in consecutive batches.