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Queen Banking

Queen Banking Cage 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 51mm x 65mm x 28mm and 8 mesh outer panels. There is a recess in the top of this portion that is shaped to accept a wooden cell plug and a tapered boring is available for the fitting of a 13mm x 13mm 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 conical holes two with a 4mm tip diameter that bees cannot pass through and one with an 8mm tip diameter that has a small piece of excluder 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 stop 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 more of these cages I will incorporate a small aluminium sliding blanking plate to cover the hole that has the queen excluder slot accross it. This modification is in the light of information given in the Steve Taber/Albert Knight/John Dews Method under the heading Queen Introduction.


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