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Banking of Mated Queens

This page is credited in full to Dave Cushman who created it. His voice is expressed in black colour text and any additions or comments in blue belong to myself. Credit: Dave Cushman’s website.

PH.

 

 

Banking of Mated Honey Bee Queens

Queen Banking Cage designed by Dave Cushman Storage of mated honey bee queens, in cages within full sized colonies of bees, is known as queen banking.

Many things in beekeeping do not “go according to plan” and the supply and demand of mated queens sometimes do not coincide.

If it is a shortage there is little we can do except start another batch… But a surfeit of queens can be temporarily stored by a technique known as “queen banking”.

Providing that the existing queen is kept out of reach by a the use of a normal queen excluder, a honey super is a reasonable place to store a few queens. Many types of cage can be used… I have used hair roller type cages, so called “nursery cages” and a progression of ever larger types.

The type I am using at present is the largest of these (only 3 will fit in a B.S. shallow frame) overall size 110 mm wide x 91 mm tall the wooden parts are 28 mm wide and this gives a 29 mm width including the mesh. The size is due to two different regions or compartments within the cage the first of these is the cage proper with internal dimensions of 51 mm x 65 mm x 28 mm and 8 mesh outer panels. There is a recess in the top of this portion that is shaped to accept a version of a wooden cell plug and a tapered boring is available for the placement of a 13 mm x 13 mm dia “marshmallow” plug (for release) or a cork for containment.

The remaining part is covered with zinc queen excluder (to help make the frame with installed cages “transparent to bees”)

The wooden partition between the two sections has three stepped conical holes (produced using a Bradrad cutter) two with a 4 mm tip diameter that bees cannot pass through and one with an 8 mm tip diameter that has a small piece of excluder material fitted across (this allows workers free access, but retains the queen). The idea behind the extra small holes is to provide “blind alleys” that will divert some bees in the event of a “mad dash” to get at the queen and allow the workers and queen to lick each other.

If I make any more of these cages I will incorporate a small aluminium sliding blanking plate to cover the hole that has the queen excluder slot across it. This modification is in the light of information given in the Steve Taber/Albert Knight/John Dews Method under the heading Queen Introduction.

Why bank Queens ?

During the production season queens can be banked while waiting to be sent to customers.
In order to ‘ride out’ customer demand or unforeseen weather conditions.
To maintain surplus or over produced queens.

I have seen it written that queen banking should be used in order to store queens to put on the market early the following year, at a higher price, but I feel that long term banking causes some deterioration in the queens. If you wish to store queens for early sale the following season then the best way of doing it is within five frame nucs not banking cages. The case for using banking in the production season is a bit thin, because in most cases demand outstrips supply at this time of year.

 

For simplicity I prefer to use Nucleus colonies.

 

PH

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