These are used for several different purposes...
and Banking queens,
(This page is similar to the "Queen Introduction" page which also has
more detail on how to use them.)
3 hole Benton cage
This is the traditional one, usually made from basswood,
that most beekeepers will recognise. It was described in a beekeeping
journal in Australia as early as March 1889.
Dimensions are 75 mm x 25 mm x 16 mm. Mesh size varies from 8 mesh
to 20 mesh.
3 hole Rice cage
I have never used this Australian Type that is (was) made by Norman Rice.
The holes are bored "blind" and mesh is stapled over the front face
of the holes after one of the main holes has been filled with candy.
(The mesh has been omitted from the drawing to enhance clarity.)
The grooves in the sides break into the main cavities to provide
ventilation when stacked close together.
The holes at either end
were blocked by slightly tapered corks.
Mailing cage, from Czech Republic
I have not used this Type either but I was impressed by the quality of
production, which I presume was by CNC controlled equipment. The
material is basswood. The twin (0.7 mm) grooves in the sides break
into the main cavity to
provide ventilation. Dimensions are 100 mm x 40 mm x 11.5 mm.
I was never happy with this item, I thought they were too small and I
did not like the "single" candy hole.
The type shown has a hardwood body, mesh on the opposite side and a
sliding plastic front (there is a candy hole in the end opposite the
There is another version with mesh on both major faces, Dimensions
39.5 mm wide x 24.5 mm wide and 60 mm tall.
Double width Nursery Cage
As a result of my dissatisfaction with the standard type I designed a
version that was twice as wide, it had two tapered candy holes, each of
different depth and a small piece of zinc queen excluder over the
inner end of the shorter tunnel. There were two sheet aluminium
"wings" that could be folded out using countersunk screws as
pivots, to allow the device to be hung between frame top bars.
The process of deploying these wings uncovered the candy holes. As
all dimensions apart from width were as before...They would still fit
a nursery frame and mix with the original sized nursery cage.
Dimensions 80 mm x 40 mm x 24 mm
Hair Roller (Nicot)
Simple and functional, also used with the Nicot cupkit system.
The old type is illustrated on the left and is single ended, the open
end will accept a candy cap filled with a lump of marshmallow.
The new type has its cap, captive, at the large end and the open small
end will take a candy cap (the appearance of the end is shown in the
drawing as an inset).
I tried these when I first stocked them at APEX. I thought they were
functional but rather on the small side. I have not tried the banking
function that is possible with this type of cage. (I no longer have
The drawing was produced from a sample provided by
Plastic mailing cage
Inexpensive, readily available and functional.
The version illustrated is made in France, by Nicot.
Dimensions 80 mm x 35 mm x 13 mm
Plastic mailing cage, (queens puzzle)
This type has not yet been used by me (they are relatively recent in
Made by Swienty these orange plastic cages can be
latched together to form blocks for mailing. It is a complex looking little
gadget but should be easy to use.
At 77 mm x 36 mm x 13 mm the dimensions of the cage are slightly
smaller than the Nicot one above but the connecting lugs increase
the envelope size to 84 mm x 42 mm x 13 mm.
Queens Guard Cage
The curved shape is unusual and the sliding action has a "gritty"
feel to it, making precision difficult. The transparent top slide has
several possible positions... The front position, as illustrated,
allow the attendants to escape. The first detent is the fully
enclosed travelling position and the rearmost position allows the
notch in the cover to align with the hole in the candy chamber so
that the bees can eat their way to release the queen.
Butler Cage (wire mesh)
Use these with newspaper folded over the open end, with a rubber band
to hold it in place. (Prick the paper several times with a pin.) Or use
foundation moulded over the end and. (Also pricked with a pin.) The
cage is 12.5 x 25 mm (or 20 mm) in cross section and up to about
75 mm in length.
One end is blocked with a solid wooden plug.
Butler Cage (Thorne Manufacture)
This commercial type is longer at 94 mm and thinner
at 20 mm x 12 mm than I have used before. I am using a tinplate end cap
made from a steel beer can to protect pre perforated paper caps that
have been glued together on a mandrel.
Butler Cage (perforated zinc)
These were home made... They were 38mm wide x 10 mm deep and 75 mm
long. I can no longer remember my reasons for making them.
I had to solder a wire rim to the open end otherwise the foundation
moulding action crushed the cage end, I also soldered a piece of steel
wire, from a paper clip, centrally across the mouth to reduce the
A matchbox makes an emergency queen cage when a queen cage is not
available, the drawer is left open about 2mm and the bees will chew
away enough of the cardboard to release the queen.
Queen Banking Cage
The marshmallow plug is inserted in the profiled hole shown in red.
The cage is transparent to worker bees but the queen is retained by a
small piece of zinc excluder over the central hole in the divider.
The queen excluder over each side of the travelling space is
additional insurance in the case of an "escape" but is mainly there
to stop comb being built in the travelling space.
A neat way of implementing the
chantry principle. The short passage is provided by the queen
excluding staple, and the long one is the unobstructed side. In use
the staple side is filled with candy, the queen is placed in the
cage and the exit is blocked by candy to a greater depth than on
the staple side ensuring a time differential between worker ingress
and queen exit.
Pipe Cover Cage
Plastic Press in Cage
This is a large device 147 mm wide, 130 mm deep and a thickness of
The four plastic prongs are forced into the comb and the queen is
placed through the hole which is then closed by the purpose made
plug. Queen release is achieved via a candy filled channel which is
at top right of this illustration (picture from Thomas catalogue).
Written... Autumn 2000,
Revised... 11 June2001,
Corrected... 03 February 2002,
Transferred to New Domain... 03 June 2004,