One of my colonies has reached the stage where I expect it might begin its own swarming activities if I don’t intervene. The colony, Aqua, was on a double brood box with 12 frames of brood and 1 super. So I decided to carry out a variation of the Wilson technique (see for the full description).
The only extra piece of equipment I need at this stage is the solid floor that I have modified to act as a split board. The photo on the right shows the 2 slots covered with mesh and the entrance cut into the back of the floor with the normal entrance block narrowed down slightly. This technique is similar to one using a Snelgrove board, but it’s simpler with less manipulations required.
The brood box for the queen raiser portion has also been modified so that it can be split into two halves if a division board is inserted enabling me to raise 2 nucleus size colonies (my current plan).The split board and the modified brood box can be clipped together with toggle clamps to make subsequent inspections of the parent colony easier. I can just lift the queen raiser box and floor off in one go.
Manipulation 1 – On Sunday a.m. 13th May – I split the colony up as follows:
1) Queen raiser – 8 frames of brood with as much unsealed brood as possible. 2 frames of drawn comb “filled” with syrup and placed at each end.
2) Parent colony – 4 frames of brood, 6 frames of stores and drawn comb
I built the colony up as follows: the parent colony (with the queen) on the existing floor, queen excluder, queen raiser, super.
The purpose of this manipulation is to get as many bees as possible to cover the brood in the upper box as this will become the queen rearing one.
Manipulation 2 – On Sunday p.m. 13th May – I swapped the positions of the 2 brood boxes around and replaced the queen excluder with the split board. The bees without the queen should start to raise queen cells from the eggs and larvae. The top box with the queen is now on the split board with the 2 side entrances open. The majority of the flying bees from the queen-right top box will return back to the original entrance and boost the queen raiser colony.
I will inspect the colony in a week to check that the queen is continuing to lay and that the queen raiser has built queen cells. I only need to perform one further manipulation in 10 days time before the queens emerge in the queen raiser. I will split the box into 2 halves with the division board and take out any excess queen cells leaving just one sealed cell in each half.
So as you can see it’s a fairly easy technique to use to raise one or two queens with no interruption to the colony’s foraging activities.