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Queen Cell Starting Methods

There are many methods to induce the bees to create queencells.

Swarming Impulse

Skep beekeeping would seem to have propagated the swarming impulse at the expense of the others. It has also been common for beekeepers to use swarm cells to make nucleii with or to re-queen stocks. There is a difference between using swarm cells and using the swarming impulse in a deliberate queen rearing system.

Miller method... this involves a comb that has a zig-zag edge at the bottom of the comb portion. The comb can be produced from scratch by mounting triangular portions of foundation in a frame to produce the zig-zag effect. The gaps between the strips will be enlarged in a ragged fashion and also utilised for queencells. miller foundation frame

Or a used comb can be cut to shape with a sharp knife. The comb will be recycled anyway so it matters little, which way is actually chosen. miller frame produced from an old comb

future picture of Alley frame with swivelling bars
Alley Method... also known as the 'Alley Plan' whereby a strip of cells containing one day old larvae, is removed from a comb and placed with the cells pointing downwards and every 2nd and 3rd larva is destroyed, leaving adequate spacing for queencells to be started and finished without surgical skills being needed to separate the sealed cells.
The queencells in this illustration are exagerated in size, but the positions that they are shown in were taken from an actual comb. miller frame with queencells

Supercedure Impulse

This is the most promising feature to be cultivated for future bee improvement as it may help redress the ballance. Skep beekeeping methods tend to select for swarming propensity simply due to constantly re-hiving early swarms (swarm of bees in May Etc. Etc.). Thus many of the strains of bee we have today are derived from these "swarmy" stocks.

Emergency Impulse

A last resort for the bees, and should be considered so by the beekeeper. The practice of splitting or artificial swarming utilises this impulse which may be OK for the odd increase or re-queening, but should not be considered seriously for a deliberate breeding program.

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Written...24 July 2000
Revised... 20 December 2001