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Possible Use for a Queen Excluder?

I recently had a fellow stop by to get a queen excluder. Although I do have a few, I only purchased one of them (the rest were given to me, for one reason or another.) I readily gave him one of the older ones without much thought. Before I got into beekeeping (and many times since), the more experienced beekeepers have advised that they do not use ’em. One fellow here in the Richmond, Virginia area said that he calls them ‘honey excluders’! Add to all of this the report from a new beekeeper, just this past May, that he actually opened his hive and could see a bunch of workers unable to make it through his excluder! In my mind, I was pretty sure that I would only use them in a queen production strategy that effectively has a hive create queen cells in a super that the queen is unable to get to. I would never use them on one of my Producer hives.

Well, I have changed my mind. After my honey extraction efforts this Summer, I have decided to experiment with a few honey excluders next year, but not exactly the way most folks use them. Two of my (honey) Producer hives had adventuresome queens that made forays into my honey supers. In both cases, this happened after the bees had capped off at least two shallow supers. In both cases, they didn’t totally ravage the honey supers with eggs, but instead made a run up one side of the hive, using two to three frames per super and then expanding a bit at the top.

It occurred to me today, while doing spot checks on many of my hives, that I might have been able to prevent this by dropping a queen excluder beneath the capped honey supers. Since I let my bees fill up one super before I place the second (beneath the full, capped super), I could easily begin to exclude the queen once a super gets squared away. This way, I am not ‘excluding’ the bees with the nectar when they actually NEED to get up into the super to fill it up. It should already be filled up! I will definitely give that a shot next year to see how it works out.

6 comments to Possible Use for a Queen Excluder?

  • JP

    One practical use for queen excluders, even among the open broodnest crowd, is in re-queening hot hives. More often than not, the hive in question is both hot AND strong, making finding the queen a difficult endevour. Simply insert an excluder between each brood box on the hive, then wait 10-14 days. By that time, there should be no open brood left, EXCEPT in the box that contains the queen. Remove that particular box, and place on a bottom board all by itself. This new hive is now much weaker, and will be much easier in requeening. The original hive can either be allowed to make it’s own queen, or be requeened as well. Divide and Conquer at it’s best.

  • JP

    Oops!

    I should note in the previous post, after removing the offending queen, the original hive will be hopelessly queenless, due to no open brood or eggs, and will require either a new queen, or a frame of open brood from a selected colony. My apologies for the mistake.

  • That’s an outstanding idea. As it so happens, I do have a hot hive that I could have used that strategy on. I had planned to kill the queen in July and let them raise their own queen. But, exactly as you mentioned, the daggone hive was huge and I could not lay eyes on her. TWICE! Like a fool, I never marked her the many times that I had seen her, making it even more difficult to locate her among thousands of bees. I usually do not have problems finding the queen, but this one was wiley. After the last failure to find her, I simply uttered to the hive (her majesty, really), ‘Ok, you win…’

  • Doug Ladd

    i also use queen excluders when making splits early before i recieve queens or to equalize the population a bit.

    I make the split and then place the split above the parent hive and a queen excluder and then come back in a day or so. This keeps them from making a queen, if your requeening, or it also allows the nurse bees to cover the brood properly based on their needs, not your shear luck of pulling frames with bees and hoping its enough…

  • Fred Bright

    Just signed in to the site, thought I would comment. I am a 73 year old beekeeper, been doing it for over 50 years, and one of the nice things about using only medium supers is that if the queen decides to move up (which is natural), it is easy to just remove the frame and place it down below or transfer to a nuc which needs some eggs or brood. When all your frames are the same size, you can do that. If I were going to use an excluder, it would be one of the plastic ones and I would cut it in half and place it in the middle of the hive just over the brood. That usually will keep the queen out and allow unobstructed passage for the workers. I have a few friends who do this with great success.

  • Heidi

    I inherited a few metal queen excluders that have been modified by the previous owner— the spaces along the sides have been snipped to expand the openings. This allows unobstructed (or, at least, less obstructed) passage for workers up and down the sides of the hive.

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