for Travelling and Introduction of Queen Honey Bees
3 hole Benton cage
This is the traditional one, usually made from basswood (lime or Linden), that most beekeepers will recognise. It was described in a beekeeping journal in Australia as early as March 1889, but information from Joe Waggle indicates an even earlier date... April 01, 1885 reported in the Waterloo Courier, Iowa.
"The Problem of sending queen bees by mail across the Atlantic has been successfully solved. Frank Benton, of Munich, Germany, reports in Gleanings in Bee Culture that he has sent many queens to America during the past season with only two or three losses."
Dimensions are 75 mm x 25 mm x 16 mm. Mesh size varies from 8 mesh to 20 mesh.
3 hole Rice cage
I have never used this Australian Type that is (was) made by Norman Rice.
The holes are bored "blind" and mesh is stapled over the front face of the holes after one of the main holes has been filled with candy. (The mesh has been omitted from the drawing to enhance clarity.)
The grooves in the sides break into the main cavities to provide ventilation when stacked close together.
The holes at either end were blocked by slightly tapered corks. The only sample of this type of cage that I have ever handled, had shorter solid portions at the ends, than the drawing illustrates, and hence shorter passages.
Mailing cage, from Czech Republic
I have not used this type either, but I was impressed by the quality of production, which I presume was by CNCcontrolled equipment. The material is basswood. The twin (0.7 mm) grooves in the sides break into the main cavity to provide ventilation. Dimensions are 100 mm x 40 mm x 11.5 mm.
The mesh is trapped in the retaining slot by a self adhesive paper label.
I was never happy with this item, I thought they were too small and I did not like the "single" candy hole.
The type shown has a hardwood body (Beech) and has * mesh on the opposite face and a sliding plastic front (there is a candy hole in the end opposite the tapered wooden queencell plug).
There is another version with mesh on both major faces.
Dimensions >are... 39.5 mm wide x 24.5 mm wide and 60 mm tall.
Double width Nursery Cage
This type was manufactured by Apex Enterprises.
As a result of my dissatisfaction with the standard type I designed a version that was twice as wide, it had two tapered candy holes, each of different depth and a small piece of zinc queen excluder over the inner end of the shorter tunnel. There were two sheet aluminium "wings" that could be folded out using small countersunk screws as pivots, to allow the device to be hung between frame top bars. The process of deploying these wings uncovered the candy holes. As all dimensions apart from width were as before... They would still fit a standard nursery frame and mix with the original sized nursery cage.
Dimensions in this case are... 80 mm x 60 mm x 24 mm
Hair Roller (Nicot)
Simple and functional, these are also used with the Nicot cupkit system for queens to emerge into from a cell.
The old type is illustrated on the left and is single ended, the open end will accept a candy cap filled with a lump of marshmallow or candy (or even a scrunched up piece of paper).
The new type has its cap, captive, at the large end and the open small end will take a candy cap (the appearance of the end is shown in the drawing as an inset).
I tried these when I first stocked them at APEX. I thought they were functional, but rather on the small side. I have not tried the banking function that is possible with this type of cage. (I no longer have any.) The stirrup like feature can be utilised to hang the cage in a colony for introduction.
The drawing was produced from a sample.
Plastic mailing cage. ("Puzzle" cage)
Inexpensive, readily available and functional.
The version illustrated is made in France, by Nicot.
Dimensions are... 80 mm x 35 mm x 13 mm
Plastic mailing cage - another version
This type has not yet been used by me. They were relatively recent in design when this page was first written, but my beekeeping is declining due to poor health and it is unlikely that I will ever get around to testing them.
Made by Swienty these orange plastic cages can be latched together to form blocks for mailing. It is a complex looking little gadget, but should be easy to use.
At 77 mm x 36 mm x 13 mm the dimensions of the cage are slightly smaller than the Nicot one above, but the connecting lugs increase the envelope size to 84 mm x 42 mm x 13 mm.
Since Dave Cushman wrote this page, there have been copies or modifications of the above puzzle cages, which are widely available. I have found that some are very poorly made and the sliding lids readily come off, allowing an unclipped queen to fly. This can happen if you put the cage on the frame tops, where the bees propolise the cage. When removing the crown board, the lid can separate from the body, so I now place the cage between the combs. I think these cages are excellent and I use them a lot. R.P.
Queens Guard Cage
The curved shape is unusual and the sliding action has a "gritty" feel to it, making precision difficult. The transparent top slide has several possible positions... The front position, as illustrated, allows the attendants to escape. The first detent is the fully enclosed travelling position and the rearmost position allows the notch in the cover to align with the hole in the candy chamber so that the bees can eat their way to release the queen.
Butler Cage (wire mesh - short)
Use these with newspaper folded over the open end, with a rubber band to hold it in place. (Prick the paper several times with a pin.) Or use foundation moulded over the open end (also pricked with a pin). The cage is 12.5 x 25 mm (or 20 mm) in cross section and up to about 75 mm in length.
One end is blocked with a solid wooden plug.
Butler Cage (Wire mesh - long)
This commercial type is longer at 94 mm and thinner at 20 mm x 12 mm than I have used before. I am using a tinplate protective end cap made from a steel beer can to protect pre-perforated paper caps made from white stationary envelopes that have been glued together using the back end of the cage as a mandrel.
Since Dave Cushman wrote this page there have been plastic Butler cages produced. R.P.
Butler Cage (perforated zinc)
These were home made... They were 38 mm wide x 10 mm deep and 75 mm long. However I can no longer remember my reasons for making them.
I had to solder a wire rim to the open end otherwise the foundation moulding action crushed the cage end, I also soldered a piece of steel wire that was cut from a paper clip, centrally across the mouth to reduce the "crushability".
A matchbox makes an emergency queen cage when a conventional one is not available, the drawer is left open about 2 mm and the bees will chew away enough of the cardboard to release the queen.
When I started beekeeping a matchbox was the most common queen cage. Cardboard ones are the most useful because the bees can chew them and release the queen. Wooden ones could only be used if the beekeeper released the queen. R.P.
The marshmallow plug is inserted in the profiled hole shown in red.
The cage is transparent to worker bees, but the queen is retained by a small piece of zinc excluder over the central hole in the divider. The queen excluder over each side of the travelling space is additional insurance in the case of an "escape", but is mainly there to stop comb being built in the travelling space.
A neat way of implementing the chantry principle. The short passage is provided by the queen excluding staple, and the long one is the unobstructed side. In use the staple side is filled with candy, the queen is placed in the cage and the exit is blocked by candy to a greater depth than on the staple side ensuring a time differential between worker ingress and queen exit.
Pipe Cover Queen Cage
This type of cage is considered old fashioned by some, but it is simple to use... The cage is placed on the surface of a comb ensuring that no workers are trapped by it, the queen is then placed under it and the tinplate edges are screwed into the comb. The depth to which it is inserted governs the time that it will take for the workers to chew away the damaged cells to effect release.
Plastic Press in Queen Cage
This is a large device 147 mm wide, 130 mm deep and a thickness of 10.5 mm.
The four plastic prongs are forced into the comb and the queen is placed through the hole which is then closed by the purpose made plug. Queen release is achieved via a candy filled channel which is at top right of this illustration (picture from Thomas catalogue).
On June 1st 2004 I borrowed a couple of samples of queen cages, that I had not seen before, from John Randall. These are illustrated below...
Ceracell Queen Mailing Cage
82 mm x 34 mm x 18 mm overall
This Mailing Cage is shown at a larger scale than other diagrams on this page. The upper two views show the inside and outside of the plastic moulding of a type of mailing and introduction cage made in New Zealand by 'Ceracell' and this particular sample is thought to have originally have been the property of the late John Inchley.
This version has many features... The studs at the rear allow for cages to be formed into stacks for mailing. The main chamber and the food chamber have covers that are separately hinged. There is a small portion of the main lid that is separately hinged and clipped so that insertion of attendants and the queen can be easily achieved without escape of those already in situ.
One drawback that I found was that the snap action that closed the lids was so strong and positive that the small flap was difficult to open in order to remove attendants or transfer the queen to another type of cage for release. It may be that the sample I had was very old and the plastic had hardened.
Polish Queen Introduction Cage
This is made from 8 mm plywood 45 mm wide x 60 mm long, the mesh that is stapled on both sides is 8 mesh and the hanger is a split pin nominally 50 mm long. The main hole is 30 mm diameter and the entrance passage is 19 wide.
The mesh can be seen bulging in the side on view, but I think this is due to the particular sample being old and dry. The split pin is shown face on in both views simply to make the photography easier.
Page created pre-2011
Page updated 16/12/2022