What are Queen Castles for?

In my previous post I stated briefly that I have been working on building some queen castles. I thought a little more in depth description might be a good idea.

Queen castles are (at least in my case) a standard hive body that I must cut a series of dados in vertically. These dados allow for the installation of 1/4″ plywood dividers. Each section will hold two deep frames. I populate this with A frame of brood, and a frame of food. In general just the amount of bees that were already on the frame will be enough, assuming the frames are holding a pretty fair amount of bees when transferred. These mini splits should be queenless. I will go back in and give them queen cells, or a virgin queen to raise.

The reason for using queen castles is so you minimize the losses when attempting to raise a new queen. The downside is that these should be inspected quite often (at least once a week). As soon as the new queen is laying she will be out of room to lay with in a day or two risking swarming. The idea is to set up a nuc or requeen an existing hive with the newly mated queens. You will cage the new queen for installation, and leave the queen castle with a new queen cell or virgin queen after a queenless period of 24 hours.

I will most likely use mine as 5 frame mating nucs. In this instance I will only install the center divider. My reasoning is to minimize the inspections. I work a full time job that is at it’s busiest while I’m raising queens, however I’m building them with the option to have 3 dividers and four sections to raise queens in. The dividers will also be able to be completely removed if I decide to just use them as regular hive bodies.

I hope my quick explanation helps if you weren’t sure what these queen castles were for. If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments. I will answer anything to the best of my ability. Thanks for reading.

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Posted in beekeeping, Queen rearing, Winter work

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