This technique is based upon Wilson’s queen rearing process and uses a modified floor board. Apart from some minor modifications it can be carried out with standard hive equipment to raise one or 2 additional queens. The main benefit is that bees can continue to fly and forage throughout the process so there should be no interruption to nectar gathering. It is very easy to carry out and only requires 3 manipulations on two separate days.
The following equipment will be required:
- A spare brood box for queen raising.
- Two dummy boards.
- A split board (modified floor board) in which two entrances, of about 40 mm, have been cut in the upper rim on two opposite sides. This can be made from a floor board with ac ouple of slots covered with wire mesh to aid ventilation.
- A queen excluder.
- Some thick sugar syrup.
- Six empty drawn combs.
- A syrup feeder, ideally something like a watering can fitted with a standard rose.
- A division board to divide the queen raising brood box into two halves. You should make sure that bees can’t move between the compartments. Additionally to make subsequent inspections easier you might want to substitute the crownboard for two smaller boards – one for each half.
Day 1 a.m. – Open up the hive and take out four combs, two with young brood (mark with a drawing pin) and two with riper brood. Ensure that the queen is not on these frames by giving them a gentle shake. Place these four combs in the centre of the spare brood box (QR – queen raiser box). Flood four of the empty drawn combs with syrup and place two on each side of the brood. Finally put a dummy board in at each end. Rebuild the hive, placing the queen excluder on, and over it the new brood box. The whole manipulation can be done in a matter of minutes. The nurse bees will stream through the queen excluder and cover the combs of the young brood and many of the other bees will come to feed on the syrup in the combs.
Day 1 p.m. – About 2 to 3 hours later re-open the hive. The combs in the top box will be well covered with bees. All that is now required is to reverse the position of the two boxes. The top box which is the queen raiser is placed upon the floor-board and the bottom box with the queen now goes on top. In building up on this occasion the excluder is removed and the split board is substituted for the crown board with the entrances open on either side and the brood box with the queen placed on top. The flying bees will now all enter the bottom box which is queen-less. This box will have eggs, young and ripe brood, nurse bees and flying bees and with the exception of the queen is a balanced colony. This is quickly remedied, as the bees immediately start building queen cells. The top box will contain most of the brood, plenty of house bees and the queen. It will, however, be short of flying bees. When re-building, place the two remaining syrup filled combs among the brood combs. For the first two days only a few flying bees will be using the side entrances; within a week, however, bees will be actively using both entrances. The colony is a balanced one and the queen will continue to lay.
The new batch of queens will be expected to emerge in 12 days time. The third manipulation can be carried out on the 9th, 10th or 11th day.
Day 9 – Reverse the position of the two boxes. The box with the queen goes below while the box with queen cells is placed upon the board above. In building up on this occasion place any supers over the bottom box. This box will now be boosted by most of the flying bees.
If you want to split the top box into two nuclei insert the division board to make two compartments. A number of queen cells will be found upon the marked comb, and at least one cell should be placed in each compartment.
Downstairs is now a strong well balanced colony with the queen, plenty of flying bees, brood, etc. Upstairs, there will be two nuclei each using a side entrance. It has already been noticed that the flying bees belonging to this box will have gone to augment the strength of the downstairs box; in place of these the nuclei will have gained the flying bees that previously were using both entrances while the queen right colony was upstairs. The restricted entrances in the top box will prevent robbing.
In a few days the queens should emerge and become mated and the beekeeper will have three colonies under one roof. After about two weeks you can inspect the 2 nuclei to see that the new queens are laying. This is also the right time to insert additional frames of comb or foundation to fill up both brood boxes.