By FRANK C. PELLETT
Associate Editor American Bee Journal, Former State
Apiarist of Iowa, Author of "Productive
Beekeeping" and "Our Backdoor
Queen, Drone, and Worker Photographed
from Life. Slightly Enlarged.
AMERICAN BEE JOURNAL,
Univ. Library, UC Santa Cruz 1997
To my good friend
M. G. DADANT.
The writer has had the privilege of visiting many of the
most extensive queen breeders of America, both north and south,
and has tried to present, in the following pages, all the best
methods of practice in use in these various apiaries. The book
is small, as it has been thought wise to make the descriptions
brief and to the point, rather than to elaborate them fully.
Beekeepers are usually busy men, and want facts presented as
simply and directly as possible in a book of this kind.
The works of Alley, Doolittle, and Sladen have been freely
consulted, as well as various texts and bulletins on beekeeping.
An effort has been made to make the book worthy of its title,
"Practical Queen-Rearing," and methods not of practical
value have largely been eliminated.
The illustrations for the most part have appeared in the
American Bee Journal, many of them in connection with the
author's contributions. A few have been borrowed from other
works, as indicated in the text.
Beekeeping has shown a remarkable propensity toward
expansion during recent months, the tendency being more and
more toward specialization. The demand for good queens
has taxed even the most extensive yards to the limit. It is
with the hope that the methods here given will prove useful,
and that the man of experience, as well as the novice, may find
something of value in its pages, that this book is offered to the
FRANK C. PELLETT.
Atlantic, Iowa, December 27, 1917.
Chapter I <>
Races of Bees.
Varieties of Mellifica.
Black or German Bees.
The Cyprian Bee.
The Holy-Land Bees or Syrians.
The Italian Bee.
Tunisian or Punic Bees.
Chapter II : 19
Life Story of the Bee.
Life of the Queen.
Queen Rearing in Nature.
Chapter III 23
Improvement of Stock by Breeding.
Desirable Traits in Breeding Stock.
Control of Drones.
Mating in Confinement a Failure.
Chapter IV 31
Equipment for Queen Rearing.
The Rauchfuss Mating Boxes.
Divided Standard Hives.
Alley Nursery Cage.
Rauchfuss Nursery Cage.
Chapter V .... 47
Early Methods of Queen Rearing:
The Alley Plan.
Chapter VI. ....S3
Present Day Methods of Queen Rearing:
The Davis Method of Using Drone Comb.
Natural Built Cells by the Miller Plan.
Big Batches of Cells by the Case Method.
The Doolittle Cell-cup Method.
Chapter VII .63
Preparation for Cells:
Getting Jelly to Start.
The Author's Plan.
Transferring the Larvae.
Chapter VIII 71
Getting Cells Started:
Removing Queen and Brood.
The Swarm Box.
Rearing Queens in Queen-right Colonies.
Chapter IX 77
Care of Finished Cells:
Use of Cell Protectors.
Formation of Nuclei.
Stocking Mating Boxes or Baby Nuclei.
Chapter X.. 83
Combining Mating with Making of Increase.
Chapter XI 87
Making the Candy.
Caging the Queens.
What the Buyer has a Right to Expect.
Chapter XII... ... 93
The Introduction of Queens:
Details of Cage Methods.
Honey and Flour Methods.
Introduction of Virgins.
Chapter XIII 101
The Spread of Disease from the Queen Yard.
Albino bees 13
Alley nursery cage 44
Alley plan of queen rearing 49
American bees. 10
Apis dorsata.. 9
Apis florea 9
Apis Indica 10
Apis mellifica .10
Artificial cells 60
Baby nuclei 35 81
Banat bees 16
Benton queen cage 44 87
Black bees .....10 1 1
Breeder, good traits of 25
Breeding, to improve stock 23
Cage method of introducing 94
Caging queens 88
Case method of queen rearing 57
Carniolan bees 15
Cell block 5578
Cell protectors.- 79
Cells care of... 77
Cells artificial 60
Cells preparation for.. 63
Cells starting 71
Cyprian bees 12
Caucasian bees 16
Direct methods 96
Flour method 98
Smoke method 96
Water method... 98
Italian bees 1 113
In confinement 28
In greenhouses 29
Mating hives 33 38
Mating-hives, stocking. 81
Miller method of queen rearing 55
Formation of 80
Nursery cages 42 44
Present day methods of queen reaiing 53
Punic bees 17
Queen, life of 19
in nature 21
early methods of 47
equipment for 31
Alley plan of 49
Davis plan of 53
Case method of 57
Hopkins method 57
Doolittle method 60
Miller method 55
Davis plan of queen rearing 53
Davis mating hives 38 40 41
Direct introduction of queens.. 96 Present day methods 53
Disease, spread from queen yards 101 Quinby's method ..48
Doolittle method of queen rearing 60 In queenright colonies 75
Drones 20 Races of bees 9
Drones control of 26 Albinos._ 13
Early methods of queen rearing 31 Blacks... 10 1 1
Egyptian bees 17 Carniolans 15
Equipment for queen rearing 47 Caucasians ..16
Feeders 41 Egyptians 17
Feeding .....76 Goldens 15 26
Flour method of introducing queens 98 Germans.... 10 1 1
Gentle stock for breeders. 25 Holylands..._ 13
German bees 101 1 Italians.- 1113
Giant bees of India 9 Punic .. _ . . 17
Golden bees 1526 Syrians. 13
Grading queens 89 Tunisan 17
Grafting 6566 Rauchfusscage.... 44
Grafting house. 31 Rauchfuss mating hi/e 34
Grafting in drone comb 53 Royal jelly 63
Grafting tools 66
Shipping cages 44
Holy land bees 13 Shipping queens 87
Honey method of introducing queens.. 98 Stocking mating-hi ves .81
Hopkins method of queen rearing 57 Swarm box _ 40 74
Hybrid bees 11
Transferring larvae 65
Increase, combined with mating 83
Introduction of queens 93 Virginqueens 90
Cage method 94 introducing _ 98
Queen, drone and worker . .Title page
Queen cells built under the swarming impulse. Fig. 1
A large average production is only secured by careful selection
Combs built without foundation contain much drone comb
Full sheets of foundation insure worker combs _
Grafting house in use by southern queen breeders _
Rauchfuss mating box..,. '.
A baby nucleus at the Minnesota University...
Small mating hives in the Strong queen yard
Mating hives using shallow extracting frames
Eight frame hive adapted for four compartment mating hive....
Eight frame hive divided into three parts, with standard frames....
Ten frame hive divided into two parts
Feeding with Mason jars at the Penn yards
The Alley Nursery Cage
The Rauchfuss Nursery Cage
Frame for holding Rauchfuss Cages
Comb cut down for cell-building by Alley plan __
Every alternate egg is crushed by Alley plan
Queen cells by Alley plan
Batch of finished cells grafted with drone comb
Cutting away cells built on drone comb
Cell block for handling finished cells.. _
Queen cells built naturally by Miller plan
Frame for holding comb for cell building by Case method
Frame of prepared cups by Doolittle method
Batch of finished cells by Doolittle method
Larvae not to exceed thirty-six hours of age should be used for
Strong colonies should be used for cell-building _.
Strong cell-finishing colony _
Finished cells by the Doolittle method
Method of placing ripe cell in nucleus which has no brood
A queen mating yard composed of standard hives
A queen-rearing apiary in Tennessee....
Queen mating nuclei under the pine trees of Alabama.--
The Benton mailing cage
The Miller introducing cage
A Mississippi queen-rearing yard
A Georgia queen-rearing apiary
A queen yard in Minnesota
The Races of Bees.
The family of bees is an extensive one, embracing hundreds
of species. On a warm day in spring, one can often see many
different kinds of solitary wild bees among the blossoms of the
fruit trees. Aside from their usefulness in the pollination of
plants, these are of little economic importance. A little higher
in the scale we find the bumble bees living together in small
families of, at most, a few dozen individuals. In the tropics
the stingless bees are still farther advanced in their social organ-
ization, and store small quantities of honey which is often
taken from them for table use by the inhabitants of the warm
countries. However, the amount of honey stored is small
compared with the product of a colony of honeybees. While
an extended study of the habits of the various species of wild
bees would open a fascinating branch of natural history, the
genus Apis is the only one that is of practical importance to
the honey producer.
Much interest has been manifested in the giant bee of
India and Ceylon, Apis dorsata, and at one time an attempt
was made to introduce it into this country. This bee builds
a gigantic comb in the open, usually suspended from a branch
of a forest tree. Dorsata has a reputation of being very fierce,
which Benton denies, saying they are no more so than other
bees. Its habit is such that it is very improbable that it
could be induced to occupy a hive, because of its single large
comb, as our honeybees must do, to be properly managed.
In the east there is another species, Apis florea, a gentle
little bee, much smaller than the honeybee. It builds a delicate
10 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
little comb usually built around a twig. The quality of the
honey is very good and the combs white, but the amount of
honey stored -in these diminutive combs is so small that they
can never be of much practical importance, even though it
were possible to induce them to remain in hives, which is very
There is a species in Ceylon and other eastern countries
which has been domesticated with some success, Apis Indica. It
is small and excitable, and generally inferior to the European
races. It is known as the common East Indian honeybee.
The natives hive them in small round earthenware pots, later
driving them out with smoke to get the honey. Attempts
to keep them in frame hives of proper dimensions have met with
some success, but the quantity of honey secured is reported
as very discouraging. This species is regarded as a variety
of mellifica by some, rather than a distinct species. In any
case it has little claim of interest to the practical beekeeper
who has the better kinds.
Varieties of Mellifica.
All the honeybees known by different names, such as Italians,
Blacks, Carniolans, etc., are now regarded as varieties of one
species, Apis mellifica. The differences are such as naturally
result from being bred for long periods of time in particular
environments. Each variety has adapted itself to the particular
conditions under which it lived until it is, very probably, better
adapted to that particular condition, by natural selection, than
any other race or variety would be. Since none of the honey-
bees are native to America, it can only be determined by trial
which of the varieties is best suited to our conditions. The
Blacks or German bees were first introduced into this country,
and were very generally acclimated in all parts of the United
States, before any other race was introduced. As in many
localities others have since been introduced, a multitude of
crosses, commonly spoken of as hybrids, have resulted. In
localities where no particular attention is paid to the breeding
of bees a new variety Avhich might well be called the American bee
BLACK OR GERMAN BEES 11
is being developed, as a result of these crosses and the natural
adaptation to a new environment. The term "hybrid" is
usually used to designate any bee which is not pure, of one race
or another. It is quite probable that time will demonstrate
that the race which is best suited to the conditions of California
is not the best for New York or Minnesota. Up to the present
time, the Italians are the only ones which have been given an
extended trial in all parts of the country, except the blacks,
which were the first to be introduced. There is still room for
extensive experiments in comparative tests of the races under
the various conditions of different sections of America.
Black or German Bees. *
Black bees are very generally supposed to have been first
introduced into America from Germany but very probably
they came first from Spain. The native black bees of Great
Britain, France, Germany and Spain are said to vary but little.
The ground color of the whole body is black with the bands of
whitish hairs on the abdomen very narrow and inconspicuous.
F. W. L. Sladen, who was at one time extensively engaged in
queen rearing in England, says that "In the cool and windy
summer climate of the British Isles it is unsurpassed by any other
pure race for industry in honey gathering, working early and
The blacks are easy to shake off their combs, and cap the
comb honey very white, making an attractive product. Since
extracted honey is coming more and more into favor, the mat-
ter of white capping is of constantly diminishing importance.
One of the worst objections to the blacks is their excitable
nature. When the hive is opened they run about nervously,
and often boil out over the top in a most disconcerting manner.
The queens are difficult to find, because of the fact that instead
*" According to the quotations from the American Bee Journal, common bees were im-
ported into Florida, by the Spaniards, previous to 1763, for they were first noticed in West
Florida in that year. They appeared in Kentucky in 1780, in New York in 1793, and
west of the Mississippi in 1797," Dadant, Langstroth on the Honey Bee.
12 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
of remaining quietly on the comb attending to business, they
run with the workers and often hide. They do not gather
as much surplus on the average as Italians, under American
conditions, are more inclined to be cross, and are more suscep-
tible to brood diseases. It is a difficult matter to save an apiary
of black bees, once they become infected with European foul-
brood. In comparison with Italians, the latter have proven
so much better that there is a very general tendency to replace
the blacks with Italians and in many limited neighborhoods
where beekeeping is scientifically followed, the blacks have
The Cyprian Bee.
The Cyprian bees are in many respects similar to Italians.
The pure Cyprians are said to be yellow on the sides and under
parts of the abdomen, as well as having the three yellow bands
as do the Italians, but the tip is very black. They are some-
what smaller than the Italians, and somewhat more slender
and wasplike in appearance. According to Alley, "The pos-
terior rings of the bodies of the workers are broader than those
of the Italian, and, when examined, it will be noticed that
the upper portion is partially black, terminating on the sides
in a perfect half moon, generally two. It will also be observed
that there is no intermingling of color. With pure Cyprian
bees this is an invariable and uniform marking." They also
have a golden shield between the wings.
The queens are extremely prolific, but the workers are very
cross and not easily subdued by smoke. After extended trial
in America, they have found few friends because of this char-
acteristic. The American beekeeper demands gentle bees.
Aside from the revengeful disposition, they have many good
qualities. They are said to be long lived, to build less drone
comb than other races, to fly farther for stores and to be extreme-
ly hardy, wintering well. They continue breeding late in fall,
and are not inclined to dwindle in spring. They build many
queen cells in preparation for swarming, sometimes as many
THE ITALIAN BEE 13
as a hundred. They defend their stores readily against robbers,
and are strong and swift on the wing.
These bees are native to the Island of Cyprus, and were
first introduced into this country from Europe. The first
direct importation was probably that by D. A. Jones of Ontario,
in 1880. It is not probable that pure stock can now be found
in this country. It is thought that some strains of the golden
Italians have been mixed with Cyprians in developing the bright
The Holy-Land Bees, or Syrians.
The Holy-land bees are very similar to the Cyprians in
appearance, having the golden shield on the thorax, but they
show whiter fuzz rings than either Cyprians or Italians. They
were introduced into this country by D. A. Jones at the same
time as the Cyprians. These bees are native to Palestine, and
are said to be common in the vicinity of Bethlehem, Jerusalem
and other Bible cities. While they attracted much attention for
a short time following their introduction, they were shortly
abandoned and are no longer offered for sale in America, as far
as the writer can ascertain. They are said to swarm excessively
and to winter poorly, as well as to propolize badly.
THE ALBINOS, formerly popular, are probably of Holy-
land origin, mixed with Italian, according to Root. The Albino
resembles the Italian in appearance except that the fuzz rings
on the abdomen are bright grey or white. Root reports them
as decidedly inferior as honey gatherers.
The Italian Bee.
The Italian bee is by far the most popular race in America.
It has been tried under all kinds of conditions in all parts of the
country with satisfactory results. It is resistant to wax moth
and European foulbrood, a good honey gatherer and gentler
than the black race which preceded it.
This race was first introduced into this country from Italy.
14 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
The story of the first importations is told by Mr. Richard
Colvin of Baltimore, in the Report of the Secretary of the
U. S. Department of Agriculture for 1863, as follows:
The first attempt to import the Italian honey-bee into the United
States, it is believed, was made about the year 1855 by Messrs. Samuel
Wagner and Edward Jessup, of York, Pennsylvania; but in consequence
of inadequate provision for their safety on so long a voyage, they perished
before their arrival.
In the winter of 1858-59 another attempt was made by Mr. Wagner,
Rev. L. L. Langstroth and myself. The order was placed in the hands
of the surgeon of the steamer (to whose charge the bees were to have been
committed on the return voyage), with instructions to transmit it to
Mr. Dzierzon on reaching Liverpool; but in consequence of his determin-
ing to leave the ship to engage in other service on his arrival at Bremen,
it was not done and the effort failed. Subsequently arrangements were
made by which, in the latter part of that year, we received seven living
queens. At the same time, and on board the same steamer, Mr. P. J.
Mahan, of Philadelphia, brought one or more queens, which were sup-
posed to be of doubtful purity. Only two or three young queens were
reared by us during that fall and winter, and in the following spring we
found all our imported stock had perished.
In conjunction with Mr. Wagner I determined to make another
trial, and another order was immediately dispatched. The queens,
however, did not arrive until the following June. Meantime, about
the month of May, Mr. S. B. Parsons, of Flushing, Long Island, received
an importation of them from the northern part of Italy, some of the
progeny of which he placed in the hands of the Rev. L. L. Langstroth,
Mr. W. W. Carey, Mr. M. Quinby, and other skilful apiarians, who with
Mr. C. W. Rose, a subsequent importer, and perhaps some others, have
bred and disseminated them pretty widely through our country."
There was much interest in the new race, and, for a long
time, queens commanded from ten to twenty dollars each in
some cases. The late Charles Dadant was one of the early
breeders, who imported stock from Italy direct.
The Italian has been bred in America on such an extensive
scale that various strains have been developed. The so-called
three banded or leather colored Italians are probably more
nearly typical than the goldens or five banded Italians. The
Italian bee from northern Italy has three yellow bands, with
pronounced bands of whitish or grey hair on each of the seg-
ments except the first and the last. It is a mild tempered bee,
usually being gentle and quiet under manipulation. Unlike
the blacks these bees cling closely to their combs, and the queen
will often continue her egg laying when the comb on which she
is working is removed from the hive and held up to the light.
It is a prolific race, and stands extremes of temperature very
well. It winters well and is not adversely affected by the heat
of the dry summers of the central west. The beekeeper who
does not care to experiment will do well to stick to the Italians,
at least until other races have been given more extended tests
than have so far been given. While there are a few warm
advocates of Caucasians and Carniolans, by far the greater
number of practical beekeepers contend that the Italians are
the best race. It is only fair to state, however, that no other
race has been given the same opportunity to demonstrate its
good points, and it is altogether probable that some other race
may yet prove best adapted for certain climatic conditions.
THE GOLDENS, are the result of special breeding by
selecting the queens whose progeny show the brightest color.
It is thought that some strains of goldens are somewhat mixed
with the Cyprians, from which ancestry came the bright color.
Some breeders have paid so much attention to selecting the
brightest colored individuals, regardless of other traits, that some
strains are unduly cross, are poor honey gatherers and are not
considered hardy. On the other hand there are strains which
have been selected with due care to retain other desirable traits
along with the bright color, which are gentle and productive.
The Carniolans resemble the blacks but are larger, the
abdomens are of a more bluish cast and the abdominal rings
are more distinct. They have the reputation of being excessive
swarmers, although the queens are extremely prolific. They
are a gentle race and reported to be good honey gatherers, and
to stand extremely cold winters. Because of their excessive
swarming tendency, they are not popular with American bee-
keepers, but the dark color is sufficient in itself to condemn them
with many who admire the bright colored bees.
It is important that they be given a fair trial in northern
sections, with a hive adapted to discourage swarming, by giving
plenty of room for the extremely prolific queens. The Dadant
16 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
hive or Langstroth frames of jumbo depth are best suited for
this purpose of any hive in the market. Since they winter
well and the colonies are inclined to be populous, it would seem
that they should be especially adapted to extracted honey
production in colder latitudes, 'if the swarming tendency can
This race is native to the province of Carniola, Austria,
and was first brought to this country in the eighties. It is
said that there is much variation in the markings of the bees
in the province from which they came. They deposit very little
propolis, and are quiet on the combs during manipulation, two
The Caucasians greatly resemble the blacks in appearance,
but they are very different in disposition. They are said to be
the gentlest race of bees known. The most serious objection
to them is the fact that they deposit propolis freely, being the
opposite of Carniolans in this respect. They swarm freely
and build quantities of burr and brace combs, which is a source
of annoyance to the beekeeper. They have many desirable
traits, wintering well, capping their honey white and not being
inclined to drift into the hives of other colonies than their own.
Since they resemble the blacks so closely, it is next to impossible
to tell whether or not they are pure, which is a serious drawback
to the careful breeder. A few who have tried them extensively
are warm in their praises of the Caucasians and contend that
they are superior to the Italians. While this may be doubted,
they are worthy of a more general trial than they have so far
received. A few breeders now offer queens for sale.
The Banats come from Hungary and greatly resemble the
Carniolans. Some contend that they are not distinct. They
are very gentle, dark in color and very prolific. They build
up rapidly in spring and are said *to be less inclined to swarm
than the Carniolans.
Mr. T. W. Livingstone of Leslie, Georgia, had Banats,
exclusively, in his apiaries and regarded them highly. He
reported them as very gentle, building up early in spring and
rearing brood all season.
Tunisian or Punic Bees.
This is a black race coming from the north coast of Africa.
Although given a trial in America they did not meet with favor
and none are now present in this country so far as known. They
are bad propolizers, extremely cross, and do not winter well.
They seem to have been lately given a trial in Scotland. Mr.
John Anderson of the North Scotland College of Agriculture,
writing in the Irish Bee Journal, October, 1917, says of them
that they have some very desirable characteristics, and some
that are inconvenient. He mentions the case of a beekeeper
who depends solely on honey production for a livelihood (which
is unusual in Great Britain), who increased forty colonies to four
hundred and harvested two-and-one-half tons of honey in one
season without feeding any sugar. Mr. Anderson regards the
Punic bee as worthy of more attention than it has received.
Bees have been kept in a primitive way for centuries in
Egypt. The Egyptian bees resemble Italians in color, with an
additional coat of white hairs. They are said to breed purely
and not be inclined to mate with other races. They are some-
what smaller than the European races, and build somewhat
smaller cells in their combs. They are reported to be cross
and not easily subdued by smoke. Since they do not form a
winter cluster, they are not fitted to withstand severe weather.
They are said to rear large numbers of drones, and to develop
fertile workers in abundance. They are not likely to prove of
any value in America. In fact, they were introduced soon
18 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
after the Civil War, but either perished from cold or were
abandoned in favor of more promising races.
There are numerous other races in Asia and Africa which
are as yet but little known in this country. It is hardly prob-
able that new races superior to those already introduced will
be found. The native Grecian bee is said to resemble the
hybrids so common in this country, but has probably not been
tried here as yet.
Life Story of the Bee.
In a normal colony of bees, during the summer season, will
be found one queen, several thousand workers and a few dozen
drones. If the bees are left to themselves and receive no atten-
tion from their owner, the number of drones is greatly increased,
and often reaches the point where they consume what might
otherwise be stored as surplus honey. Since there are but
few readers of a book of this nature who are not already familiar
with the life of the honeybee, it would seem, at first thought,
that little space need be occupied in consideration of this sub-
ject. However, the volume cannot be complete without some
attention to the life history of the insects, especially with atten-
tion to those points with special bearing on the subject of
Since the life of the colony centers in the queen, she becomes
of special importance, and she receives attention from the
workers worthy of her special place. Should she be removed
from the hive, great excitement will shortly prevail with mani-
festation of serious distress on the part of the inmates. Unless
she be promptly returned, the bees will prepare to replace her
by starting numerous queen cells, utilizing the newly hatched
larvae for the purpose.
Life of the Queen.
As stated elsewhere, all fertilized eggs laid by the queen
produce female offspring. Whether these shall develop as
queens or workers is determined by the environment in which
the development takes place. In any case the egg hatches
in about three days. Where eggs are placed in queen cells it
is very doubtful whether they receive any different treatment
20 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
before hatching than do the eggs in ordinary worker cells. It
is after the hatching of the egg that the embryo queen receives
special attention, which results in the perfect development of
her sexual organs. The larger cell in which she finds herself,
together with a plenteous supply of the rich food known as
royal jelly, makes of her a very different creature than of her
sister in the worker cell.
The queen lacks the wax secreting organs as well as the
pollen baskets of the worker. Neither has she the same highly
developed eyes as the worker. Her period of development is
much shorter, while her body is larger and quite different in
appearance. Approximately sixteen days are necessary for
the complete development of the queen bee from the time of
the laying of the egg. Of this, three days are necessary for
the egg to hatch, six days are spent in the larval stage, and seven
days in completing the final transformation, during which she
is sealed up in the cell. Twelve days are necessary for the
last stage of development of the worker, thus requiring twenty-
one days for the entire development.
Apparently the queen larvae are fed for the first thirty-six
hours in very similar manner to the workers. After that time
they are fed far more of the royal jelly than they can possibly
consume, being left to float in the rich white substance. While
the worker is fed on pollen and honey during the latter part
of her period of development, the queen larvae is fed the royal
jelly during the entire period of, larval growth.
The drones are male bees and, apparently, serve no other
purpose than the perpetuation of the species. Since under
normal conditions a queen bee mates but once in her lifetime,
but few drones are needed to serve the purpose for which they
are designed by nature. In a state of nature, where colonies
are isolated it may be needful that a large number of drones be
reared to insure that the young queen will meet one when she
goes forth to her mating flight. Where dozens of hives /are
QUEEN REARING IN NATURE 21
kept together in a single apiary, as is the case in practice of
commerical beekeeping, the beekeeper may keep the number
down to the minimum, without danger that a sufficient number
will not be present. Hundreds of apiaries are unprofitable
because their owners fail to take the necessary care to insure
the reduction of the number of drones, which consume the. sur-
plus of the colony instead of adding to the store.
Except in the case of the queen breeder who wishes to
propagate large numbers of males from choice colonies for breed-
ing purposes, the presence of an over-abundance of drones is a
serious handicap to the success of the beekeeper. The use of
full sheets of foundation in the brood frames is the best insur-
ance against the raising of drones.
The cells in which drones are reared are similar in appear-
ance to worker cells, except that they are larger in size. They
are utilized for the storage of honey the same as are the worker
cells. When the brood is developing the high arched cappings,
like rifle bullets, will instantly distinguish them from the smooth
capping of worker brood. Twenty-five days is necessary for
the development of the drone from the time the egg is laid
until it reaches maturity. Mating of honeybees takes place
on the wing, and the act is fatal to the drone. He dies almost
instantly, and his sexual organs are torn from his body and
borne away attached to the body of the queen. After all the
seminal fluid has been absorbed by the queen, the parts are
removed, apparently by the workers which can sometimes be
seen pulling at them after the return of the queen.
Queen Rearing in Nature.
Under normal conditions the bees build queen cells on
two occasions, to supersede the old queen or in preparation
for swarming. Where the old queen shows signs of failing,
the bees will often build only one or two cells. When the
young queen emerges, she will often be mated and begin laying
without manifesting any antagonism toward the old queen.
It 'thus happens that the beekeeper frequently will find two lay-
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
Fig. 1. Queen cells built under the swarming impulse.
ing queens in the old hive. It is usually but a short time until
the old one will disappear. As soon as the first virgin emerges
she will at once seek out any other queen cells which may be
present and destroy the occupants, unless prevented frcm
doing so by the workers, as is the case when there is preparation
When swarming is in prospect several cells are usually
built, and the number may be twenty or more at the height
of the season. With some other races the number is much
greater than with the Italians.
The beekeeper with a few colonies can sometimes supply
his needs by simply cutting out the surplus cells, built in antici-
pation of swarming, and using them to replace undesirable
queens, or in the making of increase.
Improvement of Stock by Breeding.
It is highly important that every person engaged in com-
mercial queen rearing, should make a careful study of the laws
of breeding, and make a conscientious effort to improve his
stock. Marvelous results have come from careful breeding
of live stock and poultry, and even more striking results have
attended the efforts of the painstaking plant breeders. Since
bees are subject to the same laws of heredity, there is no reason
why they cannot be likewise improved if the same care is given
to the selection and mating of queens, that is given to other
Fig. 2. A large average production is only secured by careful attention
to the selection of stock.
24 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
The fact that there is great difficulty in controlling the male
parentage, makes the problem of breeding bees a more serious
one than breeders of animals have to face. On the other hand,
the possibility of several succeeding generations in a single
season makes it possible to secure results in a much shorter
period of time.
The beekeeper, who is intent on bettering his stock, finds
it much simpler to replace his poor stock with a better grade
than does the farmer who has a herd of scrub cattle or sheep.
Simply replacing the queens in his colonies shortly has the effect
of changing the entire stock in the apiary, since the workers
are short lived. If he is not inclined to buy enough queens to
replace the poorer ones in all his hives, he can very shortly rear
enough on his own account to do so, if he will give the matter
a little attention. If he buys even one good queen, he can
shortly improve the entire stock of an apiary of one hundred
or more colonies. To do this he should rear as many young
queens as there are colonies in his apiary, and use them to
replace the old and inferior queens. If he does this early in
the season, he need give little thought to the mating of his
young queens. If the mother from which he rears his stock
is pure, all the young queens will be pure. To be sure, most
of them will be mated with inferior drones, but it is a well
known fact that it is only the female offspring that are affected
by the mating of a queen. If her mother is purely mated, all
her drones will be pure, regardless of her own mating. Within
a few weeks there will be thousands of pure drones, the off-
spring of the young queens that have been introduced. The
beekeeper should then rear a second lot of queens from a pure
mother to replace all the mismated ones which were introduced
early in the season. By this time, most of the drones present
will be pure, and the second lot of queens will mostly be purely
mated. It is thus a simple matter to replace the entire stock
of a neighborhood with pure bees from the offspring of a single
DESIRABLE TRAITS IN BREEDING STOCK 25
Desirable Traits in Breeding Stock.
No queen should be used as a breeder unless she is pro-
lific, since this is of the first importance in determining the
amount of honey stored. However, it is not always the most
prolific colonies which store the most honey. Longevity of
the bees is an important consideration, and quite possibly the
difference in length of the tongues of the workers may have an
important influence. It often happens that in a poor season
a single colony will store a good crop, when others equally
strong will get but little, or even require to be fed. The author
had one such colony which made a remarkable showing for three
successive seasons. The difference in production was so marked
that most of the young queens reared were from this queen.
A measurement of the length of the tongues of her workers
showed that they possessed a slightly longer tongue than others
in the apiary, or even other apiaries where measurements were
made in comparison. Increased length of the tongues of the
workers would place much nectar within their reach, which
would otherwise be denied them. It is well worth while to
have careful measurements of tongues of all colonies which
make unusual showing, under adverse conditions.
In general, the breeder selects queens for breeding from
colonies which store the most surplus, with little enquiry as
to the particular reason therefor. Since honey is the principal
desideratum of the beekeeper, he is not so much concerned in
the reason why a special colony stores more, as he is in finding
the particular colony.
Next to production, gentleness is a most important char-
acteristic. It is very disagreeable to have bees that meet one
half way to begin the day's work, and follow one about constant-
ly. The fear of stings is the principal objection to beekeeping
on the part of many people. While stings can largely be pre-
vented by suitable protection in the way of veils and gloves,
it is far better to select gentle stocks for breeding purposes.
Where only the gentle colonies are selected for breeding stock,
it is possible to very largely reduce the annoyance of stinging.
26 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
It would seem to be possible to select gentle colonies which are
also good producers, and, at the same time, have other desirable
Color should be a secondary consideration, although it is
desirable to have bees nicely marked. For a time, so much
attention was paid to color on the part of breeders of Italians,
that everything else was sacrificed in order to get yellow bees.
This was carried to such an extreme that a very general prejudice
has grown up against the Goldens. While it is quite true
that some strains of the Goldens are not desirable, being neither
hardy nor good honey gatherers, there are strains where proper
attention has been given to other points, which are very satis-
factory. In general, the Goldens have a bad reputation for
being ugly in disposition, yet at least one strain of Goldens
is very gentle. Very much depends upon the queen breeder,
and the care he uses in selecting his breeding stock. Some breed-
ers go so far as never to use a queen for a breeder, unless the
colony can be handled under normal conditions without smoke.
The non-swarming propensity is also to be favored. In
many localities the honeyflows are short, and, if the colony
swarms at the beginning of the flow, there is little chance of
harvesting a good crop. Too much care cannot be used in
selecting the colonies to use for breeders. Much more attention
is given to selecting the queen from whose offspring the young
queens are to be reared, than is given to the parentage of the
drones. The confession must be made that few breeders
give any special attention to this point, although it is equally
as important as far as practical results are concerned.
Control of Drones.
Since the queen is mated on the wing, and there is always
the possibility that the young queen will meet an inferior drone
from a distance, it is highly important that a queen breeder
go to a good deal of trouble to insure that all bees within a radius
of five miles of his breeding yards are requeened with pure
stock of the race which he is breeding. Unless he takes this
CONTROL OF DRONES
precaution, there will be much dissatisfaction on the part of
his customers from receiving mismated queens.
If a breeder is so fortunate as to be within reach of a suit-
able place to establish a mating station where no other bees
are within reach, he can do much to improve the quality of his
stock. Under such circumstances, he can select his drones
with the same care that he selects the mother of his queens.
A colony combining as many as possible of the desirable char-
acteristics can be carried to the isolated position where the mat-
ings are to be made and left there. A few have undertaken
to rear queens on islands where no other bees are present. The
broad prairies of several states offer similar isolation.
Fig. 3. Combs built on starters only or without foundation contain a
large percentage of drone cells and result in unprofitable colonies.
Unfortunately, however, few breeders are so situated that
they can control the drones thus completely. After requeen-
ing all the bees within flying distance of the apiary, the next
thing is to select the best colonies as drone breeders and supply
them with an abundance of drone comb. This insures that
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
large numbers of drones will fly from these colonies, and thus
increase the chances that young queens will meet desirable
mates. Care should be used to make sure that the combs
in the brood nests of other colonies than the breeders contain
as little drone comb as possible, and thus reduce the production
of drones to the lowest possible minimum. Traps may be used
Fig. 4. Full sheets of foundation in the brood frames insure worker
combs and a minimum of drone production.
also to catch such drones as appear in undesirable colonies.
Unless the breeder is willing to go to great length to control
his breeding stock and thus give his customers the best which
it is possible for him to produce, he should by all means confine
his attention to the production of honey or some other busi-
ness. There are entirely too many indifferent queen breeders
for the good of the industry.
Mating in Confinement a Failure.
Some practical method of absolute control of mating has
long been sought. At the University of Minnesota Prof.
Jager succeeded in getting one queen impregnated artifically
and for a time it was hoped that enough queens could be mated
in this way for use in breeding experiments. However, after
numerous trials on the part of Prof. Jager, C. W. Howard, and
L. V. France, at the University, no further successful instances
have been reported.
The A. I. Root Company tried some rather elaborate ex-
periments in getting queens mated in large greenhouses, but
these were likewise a failure. While enthusiasts have claimed
success at different times by one method or another, their
claims have generally been discredited, and up to the present,
there eems little prospect of artificial control of the mating.
About all that now seems possible, is to select isolated situa-
tions for the mating stations, or to limit the breeding of drones
as far as possible in undesirable colonies, and encourage it in
the colonies from which it is desirable to breed.
When the discovery was first made that unimpregnated
females often are capable of producing male offspring, the
public was slow to accept the fact. There was much discussion
of the subject for years before it was finally accepted as a settled
fact, rather common among insects. It is now well known
among beekeepers that queens which fail to mate will sometimes
lay a considerable number of eggs which will hatch, but all
will be drones. In the same manner fertile workers produce
drones which are usually smaller in size and inferior in appear-
ance, but some very careful observers are of the opinion that
they are quite capable of mating in the normal manner.
Since the mating of a queen has no direct effect on her
male offspring, her workers may be hybrids, and her drones pure.
It is hardly within the scope of this little book to go into detail
concerning the proof of such well established facts as those
above stated. These may be found in detail in several of the
old text books. Those who are interested in pursuing the sub-
ject further are referred to Dadant's revision of Langstroth
30 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
on the Honeybee, where a full account of the various experi-
ments along this line are given.
The thing that we are concerned with just now is the prac-
tical effect that the facts may have upon the problems of the
queen breeder, and these we have set out as briefly as possible
in the foregoing pages.
Equipment for Queen Rearing.
The kind and amount of equipment necessary for queen
rearing will depend to a great extent upon conditions. The
beekeeper who wishes to rear but a few queens for use in re-
queening his own apiaries, can get along very well with limited
equipment. The commercial queen breeder, who expects to
send out several thousand queens each year, will do well to
provide a liberal amount of equipment, for, otherwise, he will
be hampered and unable to get the best results. An effort is
made here to describe the various systems of management,
and the reader can select what most appeals to him. In general,
the simpler the system, the more efficient and the larger the
amount of work which can be accomplished in a given time.
Several different methods are described for doing the same
thing, yet it is manifestly unwise for any individual to provide
himself with all the equipment described, or to undertake the
various systems outlined, unless it be for the purpose of experi-
ment rather than for practical results. Usually it is best to
use modifications of equipment used for commercial honey
production so that in the event of a change back to regular
beekeeping the equipment can mostly be used, or sold to other
beekeepers in case of giving up the work. Second hand queen-
rearing equipment is difficult to sell, since there are comparative-
ly few men engaged in commercial queen rearing.
On visiting the queen breeders of the south, I was much
impressed with a grafting house in common use in the queen
rearing apiaries of Alabama. While it is possible to make
use of the kitchen or other warm room in the house, or to do
the work in the open air in warm weather, the little building
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
Fig. 5. Grafting house in use by southern queen breeders
shown at Figure 5 is far more desirable. As will be seen in
the picture, the building is made of matched lumber and is
very tight. A seat is provided for the operator, and in front
of it a bench or table running across the building and about
two feet wide. This provides ample room for combs, tools,
etc., and one can work in comfort and at leisure. The entire
front above the table is composed of window sash, thus providing
an abundance of light. Some of these grafting houses, like the
one shown, are also provided with glass in the roof like a photog-
rapher's studio. It is well to provide a shutter to cover the
roof in extremely hot weather, or to protect the glass during
storms. A shade is also desirable for the front, to shut out too
much sunlight at times. A room four by six feet is amply
large for this purpose, and, by means of a small oil stove, it
can be kept warm in cool weather. This is important to pre-
vent the chilling of the larvae while grafting. Some of the
more extensive queen breeders find it necessary to graft cells
every day during the season, rain or shine, and during the rush
days of midsummer must prepare hundreds of cells. Not the
least of the advantages of this building is the protection from
robbers. Where it is necessary for the operator to be at work
for several hours at a time, this little building in the center
of the yard is a great time and labor saver, as well as adding
much to the convenience and comfort of the operator. It merits
more general use. While the one shown in the picture admits
more light than is necessary on bright days, the extra glass
space will be much appreciated in dark and cloudy weather.
The honey producer who rears queens only for the purpose
of improving his stock or requeening his apiaries, seldom both-
ers much about mating-hives. When he has a lot of sealed
cells ready for use, he simply kills off the old queens to be
replaced and about twenty-four hours later gives each of the
colonies a sealed cell. In this way he avoids the bother of
introducing queens, for the young queen will emerge in the
hive where she is expected to remain. From there she will
take her mating flight, and, the only further concern necessary
on the part of the beekeeper, is to take care to replace any
queens that are lost on their nuptial flight or that fail to emerge
The commercial queen breeder will require a large number
of nuclei or small colonies to care for surplus queens, until
they are mated and ready to be mailed to customers. There
is a large variety of hives of various sizes used for this purpose.
Where queen breeding is the prime object, the tendency is to
use as small hives and as few bees as possible, so that the largest
possible number of queens may be reared with the bees and
equipment available. However, many of the most success-
ful queen breeders find serious objections to baby nuclei and
small mating boxes, and advocate nothing but standard frames
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
The Rauchfuss Mating Boxes.
Rauchfuss Mating Box.
This is perhaps the smallest mat-
ing box ever devised which has been
used successfully. Beginners or those
with limited experience, are quite
likely to have much difficulty from
the bees swarming out to accompany
the queen on her mating flight with
any small nucleus. Even the most
expert are never able to overcome
this difficulty entirely.
The Rauchfuss nucleus consists
of a small box with removable front,
holding three 4/ / 4x4/4 comb-honey sections, Figure 6. The
entrance is by means of a small round hole in the front, which
can be closed entirely, when moving them, by simply turning
a small button. As devised by the inventor, one section of
sealed honey is used, and sealed brood is removed from a strong
colony and cut into squares of the right size to fill one of the
remaining sections. The presence of the brood will in many
cases prevent the bees from absconding when the queen takes
her flight When used without the brood, there will be a larger
percentage of loss from absconding. A cupful of young bees
taken from a strong colony is sufficient to stock the box, when a
virgin queen from a nursery cage is run in through the entrance
hole. After the box is stocked and the young queen run in,
the entrance is stopped. When all boxes to be stocked at one
time are ready, all are carried to a point some distance from
the apiary and tied in trees, set on some convenient object, or
otherwise placed until the queens shall be mated. Of course
the entrance should be opened as soon as conditions are favor-
able after reaching the destination. It will be necessary to
remove the queens from these diminutive hives soon after they
begin to lay. Should it be inconvenient to do so at once,
the box is provided with a piece of queen excluding zinc which
can be turned over the entrance hole, thus preventing the queen
from escaping, while permitting the bees to go afield.
The great advantage of this mating box is the small first
cost, and the small number of bees necessary to stock the nucleus.
They are listed at about forty cents each in lots of ten.
The Root baby nucleus which is quite generally used is a
small double hive, each side containing two frames 5^x8 inches
in size. Three of these little frames will just fill a standard
Langstroth frame, and to get combs built in them it is neces-
sary to put them in Langstroth frames, and insert them in strong
colonies of bees. Some cut up combs and fit them into the little
frames. Entrances to the two compartments are at opposite
Fig. 7. A baby nucleus at the Minnesota University queen-rearing
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
ends of the box. About a half a pint of bees is used to stock
each compartment. This, in effect, is very similar to the
Rauchfuss mating box, excepting that it is necessary to go to
more trouble to get combs built especially for these nuclei.
There is the same trouble from absconding, and the same danger
of being robbed by strong colonies if left within reach. During
a good 'honey flow when all conditions are favorable, it is pos-
sible to get a large number of queens mated in these little hives
with a minimum of cost in bees, but during a dearth when it
becomes necessary to feed to keep any kind of nucleus from going
to pieces, they are likely to prove the source of much annoyance.
See Figure 7.
At Figure 8, we show some small hives formerly popular
with queen breeders, but which have almost gone out of use.
As will be seen in the picture, one is single and the other is
double. The double one has entrances opening in opposite
directions to avoid danger of the queen entering the wrong com-
Fig. 8. Small mating hives in Strong queen yard. This type of hive was
once quite generally used but is now going out of use.
[From Productive Beekeeping.]
These little hives hold three, and sometimes four, small
frames. They are large enough to hold a nice little cluster
of bees, and once established they can sustain themselves
very nicely under favorable conditions. Mr. J. L. Strong, form-
erly extensively engaged in queen rearing in Iowa, used these
mating hives for about twenty-five years' with satisfaction.
However, since the frame is an odd size, it is necessary either to
cut up combs and fit into them, or get them built in the nucleus,
so there is sometimes difficulty in getting them properly fitted
out to begin with. There is really nothing to be said for them
in preference to a standard hive divided into two or three com-
partments, and the latter can be used for any other purpose
A few queen breeders use a shallow nucleus which is of the
same length as the standard hive. In this they use shallow
extracting frames. Although the frames are of the same size
Fig. 9. Mating hives using shallow extracting frames. Achord queen
yards in Alabama.
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
as those used in the apiary, the top, bottom and body must be
made especially. Nuclei of this type as used by W. D. Achord,
of Alabama, are shown at Figure 9. Instead of the usual hive
record, short pieces of different colors are placed at the front
end of the cover. The position of these pieces, which .can be
moved to any position at will, indicate the conditions within
Divided Standard Hives.
By far the greater
number of queen breeders
use the standard Langs-
troth hive, divided into
two or more parts. J. M.
Davis, of Tennessee, di-
vides the ordinary hive
into four parts. This
makes use of standard
hive bodies, tops and bot-
toms, but requires a spe-
cial frame as shown in
Figure 10. The two di-
vision boards that are run-
ning lengthwise are easily
removed, thus leaving the
hive in only two parts.
In this way it is possible
to unite two of the clus-
ters at the close of the
season, and leave them
strong enough for winter-
ing in that mild climate.
There is an entrance at
each of the four corners,
each facing in a different
Fig 10. Langstroth hive body direction The four corn-
adapted for four-compartment mating
hive, used by J. M. Davis of Tennessee, partments are lettered A,
DIVIDED STANDARD HIVES
B, C, and D. In opening the hive he makes it a point always
to begin at A and examine each division in regular order to
avoid overlooking any one of them.
At the apiary of Prof. Francis Jager where the queen breed-
ing work of the State of Minnesota is carried on, an eight frame
hive is divided into three parts, each part taking two standard
frames. There is one entrance at each side, and one at an end.
All that is necessary to make an eight frame hive into three
nuclei, is to have two tight fitting division boards which fit
into sawed slots at the ends. These must reach to the bottom
to prevent the mixing of bees or the queens from passing from
one compartment to another. It is necessary of course to fit
the bottom board for the special purpose with entrance openings
in the proper place. Our illustration (Figure 11) shows a small
cover just the right size to cover one of the three compartments.
Fig. 11. Eight-frame hive divided into three parts; each with two stand-
ard frames, at the Jager apiary.
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
This is placed over the middle division when the regular cover
is removed, to prevent the mixing of bees while the hive is open.
Fig. 12. Ten-frame hive divided into two parts as used for mating hives
by Ben G, Davis of Tennessee.
Both the eight and ten frame hives arranged in this manner are
in general use.
Ben G. Davis, of Tennessee, the well known breeder of
Goldens, is an advocate of strong nuclei which are capable of
passing through a dearth or other unfavorable season without
much fussing on the part of the queen breeder. With five hun-
dred or a thousand weaklings, the queen breeder finds it a very
difficult matter to carry on operations under adverse conditions.
Mr. Davis feels that the extra cost of these stronger nuclei is
cheap insurance against a poor season. Figure 12 shows his
big nuclei, where a ten frame hive is divided into two parts,
each with four frames. These nuclei are strong enough to store
sufficient honey to winter them successfully under normal
conditions, and the time saved from fussing with daily feeding
and constant attention more than repays the larger investment.
Then there is no trouble whatever in stocking nuclei formed in
this manner. All that is necessary in order to increase the
number, is to remove one or two frames of emerging brood from
a strong colony, for each nucleus, give them a queen or ripe
cell and let them build up slowly during the summer, as one
young queen after another is mated and permitted to begin
Some kind of feeder will be necessary to stimulate the cell-
starting and cell-building colonies, at such times as no honey
is coming from the field. If small nuclei are used, it will often
become necessary to feed them as well. Since nearly every
apiary is provided with feeders of one kind or another, it hardly
seems important in a work like this to enter into a discussion
of the different types of feeders in the market, and the special
merits of each. The Doolittle division board feeder is very
popular among queen breeders, as is also the Alexander bottom
feeder. However, practically every type of feeder now in the
market is in use somewhere in a queen-breeding apiary. The
IV-nn Company, of Mississippi, use a Mason jar with small
holes in the metal cover. This is inverted in a round hole in
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
the center of the cover of the hive, Figure 13. In passing through
the yard, one can see at a glance the exact amount of feed avail-
able to every colony. The feeders are easily filled and replaced
without opening the hives, and, at the same time, place the feed
above the cluster.
During much of the season a queen breeder with an active
trade will have no use for nursery cages. Each cell will be placed
in a nucleus a day or two before time for the queen to emerge,
and there she will remain until removed to fill an order to re-
queen a colony. However, it often happens that a batch of
cells will mature when no queenless nuclei are ready to receive
them, and it becomes necessary to care for them otherwise
Fig. 13. Feeding with Mason jars set in the top of hives at the Penn
NURSERY CAGES 43
for a day or two, until room can be made for them. Then
some breeders make a practice of allowing the young queens to
emerge in the nursery cages before placing them in the nuclei.
In this case, cages will be necessary.
There is a considerable percentage of loss when queens
are permitted to remain several days in the cage. Some will
creep back into the cell and be unable to back out again, while
others will die from other causes. Sometimes, the bees will
feed them through the wire cloth, but this is not to be depended
upon, and the cages must be stocked with candy to insure
plenty of feed within reach. Doolittle advocates smearing a
drop of honey on the small end of the cell when placing it in
the nursery, in order to provide the queen with her first meal
as soon as she cuts the capping of the cell. Candy is also pro-
vided to furnish food in sufficient quantity during the period
that she is confined in the cage. The cages must be kept warm,
of course, while the cells are incubating, and for this purpose
they are usually left hanging in the hive with a strong colony.
However, the bees will not keep the cells in cages sufficiently
warm after the weather gets cool in late fall, nor in early spring.
At such times it becomes necessary to provide a nursery heated
with a lamp or other artificial heat, in which the frames of
nursery cages can be hung.
Some queen breeders utilize an ordinary poultry incubator
for this purpose, maintaining it at the normal hive temper-
E. B. Ault of Texas has fitted up an outdoor cellar with
artificial heat for the purpose of incubating his sealed queen
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
The Alley nursery cage.
Alley Nursery Cage.
The Alley cage, Figure 14, is the
most popular cage, although this may
be because it has been so long on the
market. A nursery frame is offered
by supply houses which holds twenty-
four of these cages. The larger
hole is just the right size to take
a cell built on a cell block. The
block makes an effective stopper for
the hole after the emergence of the
young queen. Candy for provision
is placed in the smaller hole.
Rauchfuss Nursery Cage.
The Rauchfuss cage has not been
long in the market, but bids fair to come
into general use. Figure 15 shows the
cage and Figure 16 the frame to hold
about three dozen of them. This cage
Fig. 15. The Rauch- can be used for any purpose for which a
fuss combined nursery cage j s nee ded about the apiary. The
and introducing cage.
hole at one end is large enough to take a
ripe cell, while the candy at the other end can be eaten away,
thus releasing the queen, and making it a desirable introducing
The Benton mailing cage has come into almost universal
use among queen breeders. This is used as a combined mailing
and introducing cage. It has been found that a small cage is
desirable for sending queens in the mail, as there is less danger
of injury when thrown about in the mailsacks than in a larger
cage where there is more room to be bumped about. When
larger cages are used, where the queen and her escort must
Fig. 16. Frame for holding Rauchfuss nursery cages.
travel long distances, as for export trade, a correspondingly
larger number of bees are enclosed, thus saving each other from
the shocks incident to travel through the mails.
Minor Equipment, such as cell blocks, cell protectors,
etc., will be taken up in connection with the chapters relating
to their use.
Early Methods of Queen Rearing.
Prior to the invention of the movable frame hive little
progress was made in the development of beekeeping. Com-
mercial queen rearing as now practiced has been developed
within the memory of our older beekeepers. As soon as his
invention of the loose frames made the control of conditions
within the hive possible, Langstroth began to experiment in
the hope of being able to control natural swarming, and make
necessary increase at his convenience. At that time the only
known method of securing additional queens, was by means
of depriving a colony of the queen. The queenless colony in
its anxiety to make sure of replacing the lost mother, would
usually prepare a number of cells and rear several more queens
than needed. The ripe cells were taken from the hive before
the emergence of the first queen, and given to nuclei or queen-
less colonies. As compared to present wholesale methods, this
plan was crude and unsatisfactory. However, a careful bee-
keeper could by this means make considerable increase artificial-
ly, or provide young queens to replace undesirable ones.
In the first edition of his "Hive and the Honey-Bee,"
Langstroth describes his method of queen rearing by means of
one queen in three hives. Two hives were deprived of their
queens which were used to make artificial swarms or nuclei,
at intervals of a week. When the first hive had been queenless
for nine days, there were several sealed queen cells, which were
counted, on the tenth day these were removed for use and a
laying queen was taken from a third hive, C, and given to the
first hive where she was permitted to lay a few days. In the
meantime the second hive had been made queenless and had
built cells. When these in turn were removed the queen which
had been taken from the third hive, C, and placed in the first
48 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
hive, was taken from the first hive and passed on to the second.
The hive C, from which the queen had been taken, soon had
cells ready to remove and she was replaced in her original home.
Here she was permitted to stay for only a short time when she
was started a second time around the circle. By keeping the
queen in each hive for a period of a week at one time, sufficient
eggs were laid to prevent the rapid depletion of the stock while
providing a sufficient number of eggs and young larvae, to insure
queen cells when she was again removed. By this simple plan
he was able to get a large number of young queens and at the
same time preserve the parent colonies. Whenever possible
the queen cells were removed intact by taking out the frame on
which they were formed and exchanging it for another from the
colony, to which it was desired to give the cell. At times, how-
ever, he found it necessary to cut the cells from the combs,
since several cells were often on the same comb.
For a number of years no better method was developed,
and while numerous variations of the Langstroth plan were
described in the beekeeping literature of the time, the only way
known to secure additional queens was by means of making a
colony queenless and trusting them to build cells in a natural
manner. In an. early edition of his "Manual of the Apiary,"
Cook recommended that the edges of the combs containing
eggs or young larvae, be trimmed, or holes cut, somewhat after
the manner known in later years as the Miller plan.
Quinby practiced rearing queens by forming small nuclei
of about a quart of bees and giving them small pieces of comb
containing larvae not less than two, or more than three days
old. A hole was cut in a brood comb sufficient to insert a piece
of comb containing the larvae. This is described to be one inch
deep and three inches long. No other brood was permitted
in the hive. Concerning this plan he says: "I want new
comb for the brood, as cells can be worked over out of that,
better than from old and tough. New comb must be carefullv
THE ALLEY PLAN 49
handled. If none but old, tough comb is to be had, cut the cells
down to one-fourth inch in depth. The knife must be sharp
to leave it smooth and not tear it."
While practicing the method just described, he said in his
book, that in many respects he preferred to rear queens in a
strong colony made queenless.
The Alley Plan.
Henry Alley made a distinct advance when he developed his
plan of using strips of worker comb containing eggs or just
hatched larvae. Before describing his method of preparing these
cells, it is best, perhaps, to outline his plan of preparing the
bees to receive them so that his whole method may be clearly
He recommended taking the best colony in the apiary to use
as cell builders. After the queen had been found, her bees were
brushed into a "swarm box," which has a wire-cloth top and
bottom, to admit the air. "The bees should be kept queenless
for at least ten hours in the swarming box, else the eggs given
them for cell building will be destroyed. Soon after being put
into it they will miss their queen and keep up an uproar until
The bees in the swarm box were kept in a cool room or cellar
and fed a pint of syrup. In the meantime the old hive has been
removed and a queen rearing hive placed on the old stand. At
night the bees are returned to the new hive on the old stand and
given cell building material provided as follows:
In the center of the hive containing the breeding queen an
empty comb has been placed four days previously. This will
now contain eggs and hatching larvae. The bees are carefully
brushed off this comb and it is taken into a warm room to be
cut into strips. With a thin, sharp knife, which must be kept
warm to avoid bruising the comb, the comb is cut through every
alternate row of cells. After the comb has been cut up into
strips, these are laid flat on a table and the cells on one side of
the midrib are cut down to within a quarter of an inch of the
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
Fig. 17. Comb cut down for cell building, by Alley.
septum as shown in Fig. 17. Every alternate egg or larva is
crushed by means of a match pressed gently into the shallow
Fig. 18. Every alternate egg is crushed with a
match twirled between the fingers.
cells and twirled between the thumb and finger, Fig. 18. This
gives room enough for a queen cell over each remaining one,
Fig. 19. A frame containing a brood comb with about one-half
Fig. 19. Queen-cells by the Alley plan. [From Productive Beekeeping.]
cut away is used as a foundation for the prepared strip. The
uncut side of the strip is dipped into melted beeswax and at once
THE ALLEY PLAN 51
pressed against the lower edge of the comb. It is necessary to
use care to have this melted wax of just the right temperature
so as not to destroy the eggs by overheating them, while at the
same time warm enough to run readily and stick to the dry
comb. The shallow cells, those which have been trimmed, open
downward in the same position as a natural queen cell built
under the swarming impulse.
The care of the cell building colonies, emerging queens,
etc., is the same by this method as any other and will be found
in detail further on. See page 63. Aside from the strips of
prepared cells, no brood will be given to the queenless bees,
and they will concentrate their attention on building cells,
with the result that a considerable number of fine cells will be
Present Day Methods.
While most queen breeders of the present day use some
modification of the Doolittle cell cup method, a few still cling
to the Alley plan or some modification of it. J. L. Strong, a
well known queen breeder of Iowa, who has but recently re-
tired, continued to follow the Alley plan in detail until the end
of his queen breeding career. Mr. Strong was a beekeeper
for half a century and engaged in commercial queen rearing
for about twenty-five years. The Davis queen yards in Ten-
nessee use a modification of this method, using drone comb
instead of worker comb. This necessitates grafting, as with
artificial cell cups.
The Davis Method of Using Drone Comb.
At the Davis yards in Tennessee, a modification of the
Alley plan is used. Instead of cutting down worker comb in
which eggs have already been laid as in the Alley plan, they
cut down fresh drone comb wherever available. This neces-
sitates grafting of larvae the same as in the cell cup method
later to be described. Strips of new drone comb are cut down,
as already described, and fastened to wood supports. Royal
jelly is taken from queen cells the same as in the cell cup method,
and a small quantity placed in each drone cell which it is desired
to use. Worker larvae from the hive occupied by the breeding
queen are then carefully lifted from their cells by means of a
toothpick or grafting tool, and placed in these prepared cells.
Every third or fourth drone cell can be used in this manner.
These cells are given to strong colonies to be built, the same
as by the Alley plan or cell cup plan.
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
Fig. 20. A batch of finished cells
grafted with drone comb at the Davis
Mr. J. M. Davis
has tried about all the
systems so far given to
the public during the
nearly fifty years that
he has been engaged in
queen breeding. After
giving the Doolittle cell
cup method an extended
trial, he abandoned it
in favor of the plan
above described. By
this plan, it is possible
to get large batches of
fine cells, although it
becomes necessary to
have combs drawn
above excluders and
without foundation, in
order to get a sufficient
supply of drone comb
for the thousands of
cells which are built in
a yard, doing an exten-
Fig. 21. Cutting away cells built on drone comb.
NATURAL BUILT CELLS BY THE MILLER PLAN 55
sive business. Figure 20 shows one batch of 37 finished cells
by this method. Cells built by this plan are not as convenient
to remove and place in nursery cages or mating nuclei as those
having the wood base. These must be cut apart as in Figure
21. This also necessitates some special means of carrying them
about to avoid injury to the tender occupants. For this purpose
a block with 24 holes bored in it is used at the Davis apiaries.
As the cells are cut from the frame they are placed in the block,
in the natural position. The block is easily carried from hive
to hive while placing the ripe cells. Figure 22.
Fig. 22. The cell block enables the queen breeder to carry a batch of
cells right side up without danger of injury.
Natural Built Cells by the Miller Flan.
What has, of late, been known as the Miller method of
rearing queens, was probably not entirely original with him,
but has been used in more or less the same form for many
years. However, Dr. C. C. Miller has given the method new
prominence, and brought it forcibly to public attention. In
offering it, he did not even claim to be putting forth anything
entirely new, but presented it as a very satisfactory method
56 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
for the honey producer to provide himself with a limited number
of queens with little trouble. The plan was so simple that it
made an instant appeal, and has been widely published and
generally used under the name of the Miller Plan. The author
probably can present the matter in no other way so well as to
copy Doctor Miller's original article concerning it from the
American Bee Journal, August, 1912:
Yet it is not necessary to use artificial cells. The plan I use for
rearing queens for myself requires nothing of the kind. And it gives
as good queens as can be reared. I do not say that it is the best plan
for those who rear queens on a large scale to sell. But for the honey
producer who wishes to rear his own queens I have no hesitation in
recommending it. I have reared hundreds of queens by what are con-
sidered the latest and most approved plans for queen breeders; and so
think that I am competent to judge, and I feel sure that this simple
plan is the best for me as a honey producer. I will give it as briefly as
Into an empty brood frame, at a distance of two or three inches
from each end, fasten a starter of foundation about two inches wide
at the top, and coming down to a point within an inch or two of the bot-
tom bar. Put it in the hive containing your best queen. To avoid
having it filled with drone-comb, take out of the hive, either for a few
days or permanently, all but two frames of brood, and put your empty
frame between these two. In a week or so you will find this frame
half filled with beautiful virgin comb, such as bees delight to use for
queen-cells. It will contain young brood with an outer margin of eggs.
Trim away with a sharp knife all the outer margin of comb which con-
tains eggs, except, perhaps, a very few eggs next to the youngest brood.
This you will see is very simple. Any beekeeper can do it the first time
trying, and it is all that is necessary to take the place of preparing arti-
Now put this "queen cell stuff," if I may thus call the prepared
frame, into the middle of a very strong colony from which the queen
has been removed. The bees will do the rest, and you will have as
good cells as you can possibly have with any kind of artificial cells.
You may think that the bees will start "wild cells" on their own comb.
They won't; at least they never do to amount to anything, and, of course,
you needn't use those. The soft, new comb with abundant room at
the edge, for cells, is so much more to their taste that it has a practical
monopoly of all cells started. In about ten days the sealed cells are
ready to be cut out and used wherever desired.
This plan is especially useful to the novice or to the bee-
keeper wishing for but a few queens at one time. It is simple,
easy and never failing under any normal conditions.
Our illustration, Figure 23, shows this method with four
strips of foundation used to start, instead of two as Doctor
Miller suggests in his article.
BIG BATCHES OF NATURAL CELLS 57
Fig. 23. Queen-cells built naturally by the Miller plan.
Big Batches of Natural Cells by the Hopkins or Case
Many extensive honey producers who desire to make
short work of requeening an entire apiary, and who do not care
to bother with mating boxes or other extra paraphernalia, make
use of the Case method, which has been somewhat modified
from its original form. This method is advocated by such well
known beekeepers as Oscar Dines of New York and Henry
Brenner of Texas. The plan was first used in Europe.
To begin with, a strong colony is made queenless to serve
as a cell building colony. Then a frame of brood is removed
from the center of the brood nest of the colony containing the
breeding queen from whose progeny it is desired to rear the
queens. In its place is given a tender new comb not previously
used for brood rearing. At the end of four days this should
be well filled with eggs and just hatching larvae. If the queen
does not make use of this new comb at once, it should not be
58 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
removed until four days from the time when she begins to lay
in its cells. At that time nearly all the cells should be filled
with eggs and some newly hatched larvae.
This new comb freshly filled is ideal for cell building pur-
poses. The best side of the comb is used for the queen cells
and is prepared by destroying two rows of worker cells and leav-
ing one, beginnning at the top of the frame. This is continued
clear across the comb. We will now have rows of cells running
lengthwise of the comb, but if used without further preparation
the queen cells will be built in bunches, that it will be impossible
to separate without injury to many of them. Accordingly
we begin at one end, and destroy two cells and leave one in each
row, cutting them down to the midrib but being careful not to
cut through and spoil the opposite side. Some practice destroy-
ing three or four rows of cells, and leaving one to give more
room between the finished queen cells.
We now have a series of individual worker cells over the
entire surface of the comb, with a half inch or more of space
between them. The practice varies somewhat with different
beekeepers beyond this point. However, this prepared sur-
face is laid flatwise with cells facing down, over the brood nest
of the queenless colony, first taking care to make sure that any
queen cells they may have started are destroyed. In general,
it is recommended that the colony be queenless about seven
days before giving this comb. By this time there will be no
larvae left in the hive young enough for rearing queens, and the
bees will be very anxious to restore normal conditions. Some
beekeepers simply take away all unsealed brood, rather than
leave the bees queenless so long.
As generally used, this method requires a special box or
frame to hold the prepared comb. This is closed on one side
to prevent the escape of heat upward and to hold the comb
securely in place. Figure 24. Some kind of support is neces-
sary to hold the comb far enough above the frames to leave
plenty of room for drawing large queen cells. It is also advis-
able to cover the comb with a cloth which can be tucked snugly
BIG BATCHES OF NATURAL CELLS
Fig. 24. Frame for holding comb horizontally above brood-nest for
getting queen-cells by the Case method.
around it, to hold the heat of the cluster. By using an empty
comb-honey super above the cluster, there is room enough for the
prepared comb and also for plenty of cloth to make all snug and
Strong colonies only should be used for this, as for any
other method of queen rearing. If all conditions are favorable,
the beekeeper will secure a maximum number of cells. From
seventy-five to one hundred fine cells are not unusual. By
killing the old queens a day or two before the ripe cells are given
it is possible to requeen a whole apiary by this method with a
minimum of labor. According to Miss Emma Wilson, it is
possible to get very good results by this method, without mutilat-
ing the comb, although it is probable that a smaller number of
queen cells will be secured. By laying the comb on its side
as practiced in this connection, the cells can be removed with a
very slight effort and with a minimum of danger.
60 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
The Doolittle Cell Gup Method.
Nine queen breeders in every ten, it is safe to say, use the
Doolittle cell cups. While it is possible to rear queens on a
commercial scale by other methods, few queen breeders care
to do so. One can control conditions so nicely by the use of
artificial wax cups and can determine so nearly how many
cells will be finished at a given time, that this method is in all
but universal use in commercial queen breeding apiaries. Most
of the extensive queen breeders count on turning out queens
at a uniform rate, increasing the number as the season advances
to keep pace with the probable demand. It is of no advantage
to a breeder to produce five hundred ripe cells at a time when he
has market for only a dozen queens. He estimates as nearly
as possible the demand for the season and establishes a sufficient
number of mating nuclei to care for the queens as they emerge.
During the height of the season a queen is only permitted to
lay enough eggs to enable the breeder to satisfy himself that she
is fertile and otherwise normal. Queens thus follow each other
in rapid succession in the various mating boxes, throughout
It was the difficulty of keeping up a dependable supply of
queens to supply his increasing trade that led G. M. Doolittle
of New York state to experiment with artificial cells. The
successful outcome of his extended experiments has largely
revolutionized the queen trade. They have already been in
use for about thirty years. One can make from one hundred
and fifty to two hundred of these wax cups per hour, so per-
haps this plan can be followed as easily as any from the point
of time required in the various operations. Dealers in bee
supplies now list these artificial cells for sale at a small price,
and many buy them already prepared. They can be used
either with or without a wood cell base. When used without
the base they are attached to wood strips by means of melted
beeswax. However, the wood base is very generally used,
since the cells can be changed about with much less danger
of injury. A sharp pointed tack is imbedded in the base, which
THE DOOLITTLE CELL CUP METHOD
makes it very easy to attach them to frame supports on which
they are inserted into the hives. Figure 25 shows a frame of
newly prepared cells ready for the hive. It will be seen that a
strip of foundation is used above the wood supporting the cell
cups. This will soon be drawn by the bees and filled with honey.
More often the beekeeper cuts away part of a comb already
drawn for use in this way.
Mr. Doolittle used a wood rake tooth as a form on which to
mold the cells. Lacking this, a round stick about the size of a
lead pencil, but with carefully rounded end, may be used. Bees-
wax is melted in a small dish over a lamp or on a stove of mod-
erate heat. It must not be kept too hot, otherwise it does not
cool rapidly enough. A mark should be made on the stick
nine-sixteenths of an inch from the end, and the stick dipped
into water to prevent the wax from sticking. After giving it a
quick jerk to throw off the water it is then dipped into the
melted wax up to the mark. The dipping is done quickly,
twirling the stick around as it is lifted out to distribute the
wax evenly. As soon as the wax is sufficiently hardened, it is
dipped again, this time not quite so deep. The form is thus
Fig. 25. Frame of prepared cups by the Doolittle method.
62 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
dipped again and again, each time lacking about a thirty-
second of an inch of going as deep as before, until the base of the
cell is sufficiently thick to make a good cell.
These artificial cells answer the purpose as well as those
built by the bees, and if other conditions are normal the bees
accept them readily. If wood blocks are used they are now
ready to be attached to the blocks, or if not, direct to the wood
strips. Figure 25.
For use, it becomes necessary to supply each cell cup with
a small amount of royal jelly, and then with a toothpick or
grafting tool carefully lift larva, not to exceed thirty-six hours
old, from a worker cell and place it on the jelly in the prepared
Preparation for Cells.
Whether one uses the Alley plan or some of its modifica-
tions, or the Doolittle cell cup method, certain stages of the
process of getting the cells built may be the same. A supply
of royal jelly will be necessary to begin with only where grafting,
or changing the larvae from worker cells into prepared cells, is
practiced. The preparation of colonies for building cells, finish-
ing them and caring for them until ready for emergence of the
young queens, is very similar by any of these methods.
There are numerous variations of the treatment of colonies
in preparation for cell building, and several of these will be
described in an effort to treat the whole subject in a compre-
Getting Jelly to Start With.
If the beekeeper wishes to start cells early in the season
before there has been any preparation for swarming, it is some-
times difficult to secure a supply of royal jelly readily; especially
is this true when the colonies are still weak from wintering.
The first thing to do is to look carefully for supersedure cells,
when making the spring examination of the apiary. Failing
queens may be replaced at any season, and one or two cells
will be built in anticipation of the supersedure. If a cell is
found, this difficulty is at once disposed of, providing it is at
the proper stage. The royal jelly is fcund in the bottom of
the queen cells and is a thick white paste, very similar in appear-
ance to the paste ordinarily used for library purposes or mount-
ing photographs. Sometimes, when it is quite thick, it is de-
sirable to thin it slightly by the addition of a small quantity of
saliva or a drop of warm water. Only a minute amount of
(34 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
jelly is placed in each of the prepared cups, so that a well sup-
plied queen cell will provide a sufficient quantity to supply
thirty to fifty of them.
If no cells containing jelly are found, the usual plan is to
remove the queen from a vigorous colony and permit them to
start cells. The author very much dislikes to remove queens
except when absolutely necessary, and prefers some other
plan. A simple way is to place a wire cloth over the top of a
strong colony in place of the cover. On this set a hive body
containing at least three frames of brood in the various stages,
being sure that there is no queen on the frames, and that there
is plenty of newly hatched larvae. All adhering bees should be
left on the combs. The cover is then placed over all and the
hive left closed for two days, when there will be an abundant
supply of royal jelly available.
The Author's Plan.
The author, not being engaged in queen rearing commer-
cially, can choose a favorable time for rearing such queens as
are necessary to make increase or for requeening. While the
method seldom fails even under unfavorable conditions with
him, it is very possible that it might not be .satisfactory under
To begin with, the queen is found and placed, on the comb
on which she is, in an empty hivebody. Sometimes the remain-
der of the space is filled with empty drawn combs, sometimes
one or more frames of brood are added, as circumstances dic-
tate. The hivebody containing the queen is then placed on
the hivestand in the position where the colony had already been
placed. Above the hivebody containing the queen is placed a
queen excluder, to prevent the queen from going above. If
the weather is warm so that there is no longer any danger
of chilling brood from dividing the cluster into two parts, an
empty set of extracting combs is placed over the excluder.
The original hive containing most of the brood is now placed
on top of this empty chamber. Twenty-four hours later the
TRANSFERRING THE LARVAE 65
bees are given a frame of cellcups containing larvae. These
cups are placed in the hive in the same manner as usual, except
that they have no royal jelly. A thin syrup made with sugar
and water or honey thinned with water is then poured freely
over the tops of these frames. The worker bees gorge them-
selves freely with the syrup and, since the brood in the upper
chamber is so far from the queen below, the bees are easily
stimulated to start queen cells. Usually from one to three of
these dry cells will be accepted, and two days later will furnish
an abundant supply of royal jelly for grafting purposes. A
second lot of cells is now prepared with jelly, and these are
given to the bees in the upper story in the same manner. Syrup
is poured over the frames as freely as before, with the result
that a large portion of the cells are likely to be accepted. The
author does not claim that the idea is altogether original with
him, but simply outlines it as his method of practice. Feeding
the bees freely at the time of giving a batch of cells is rather
common practice among the queen breeders in certain localities.
By this method, it is easily possible to secure a supply of royal
jelly without dequeening a colony or interfering with the laying
of the queen. If it is too cold to place an empty super between
the brood nest and the brood in the upper story, the plan will
usually work with only the excluder between. After the weather
becomes warm enough, it is easily possible to continue building
cells indefinitely above the same colony, by lifting the brood
above as fast as sealed in the brood nest. The young bees
emerging in the upper chamber continue to supply nurses as
needed. It will be readily apparent that to be successful this
plan requires a strong colony.
Transferring the Larvae.
Some beekeepers make a practice of placing a frame of
cellcups in the hive over night in advance of the grafting. The
idea is that the bees will work them over, smooth and polish
them, thus placing them in more attractive condition for the
acceptance of the prepared cells. The author has never been
66 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
able to convince himself that this plan brings enough better
results, in practice, to justify the extra trouble, where large
numbers of queens are to be reared.
The cellcups are placed in the wood bases and fastened in
place as shown in Figure 25. Commercial queen breeders
usually have two or three bars of cells in each frame instead of
only one. About fifteen cellcups to each bar is not unusual,
so that with a liberal number accepted it is often possible to
get from thirty to forty finished cells in each batch. Figure 26.
At this stage the grafting house described on page 31 is
very desirable. The queen cells from which the royal jelly
is to be taken, together with the prepared cellcups and a frame
of newly hatching brood from the breeding colony are now taken
to the grafting house or into a warm room for the final prepara-
tion. For transferring the jelly and the larvae, there are spe-
cially prepared tools in the market. These look very much like
knitting needles w T ith one end flattened and slightly bent to
one side. However, one can do very well with a quill cut down
to a strip about a sixteenth of an inch in width, with the end
bent in similar manner. Even a toothpick can be made to
serve -quite well.
An ingenious device for transferring larvae is described by
John Grubb of Woodmont, Pa. He uses a small stick of wood
about three-sixteenths of an inch thick and four inches long,
one end of which is whittled down to a long tapering point.
A long horsehair is doubled, then twisted together, and doubled
again. Both ends are laid on the stick, the circular center
extending beyond the end. Fine thread is wrapped around the
hair and the stick, to hold all firmly. The doubled hair makes
a circle about a tenth of an inch in diameter beyond the pointed
end of the stick. With this horsehair spoon it is an easy mat-
ter to, lift a larva from a cell and transfer it to a cellcup. It
is easily and quickly made and materials necessary are usually
within easy reach.
First a bit of royal jelly is placed in each cellcup, and then
a larva about twenty-four to thirty-six hours old is carefully
lifted from its cell and placed on the jelly. There is some
TRANSFERRING THE 'LARVAE
Fig. 26. A batch of cells by the cell-cup method.
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
difference of opinion as to the proper age of larvae, but all
agree that larvae more than three days old should never be
used. Nobody holds that better queens can be reared from
larvae two days old than from younger larvae, although some
think that as good results can be obtained. The majority seem
to favor larvae from twelve to twenty-four hours old, with some
Fig. 27. Larvae not to exceed thirty-six hours old should be used for
TRANSFERRING THE LARVAE 69
strong advocates of thirty-six hours as the proper age. Figure
27. However, it may safely be said that twenty-four to thirty-
six hours is as old as larvae should be for this purpose. Prob-
ably up to this age as good or better results will be obtained as
from the use of younger ones.
Something has already been said about the importance
of selecting the breeding stock carefully. This is a vital mat-
ter if good results are to come from the breeder's work. The
larvae used in grafting should be the product of the best queen
At Figure 27 we show the magnified larvae in the cells
at about the proper age for grafting. Sladen recommends
that larvae not quite as large as a lettuce seed be used. With
a little experience one will soon come to tell readily the ap-
proximate age of the larvae by the appearance.
Getting Cells Started.
For building cells
one must have strong
colonies, Figure 28, and
to insure this condition,
one must have his bees
in good shape in early
spring. While it is of-
ten advocated that
stimulative feeding be
resorted to early, in
order to build the col-
onies up to a sufficient
strength, the author in-
clines to the belief that
colonies in two stories
will build up just as
rapidly if there is an
abundance of sealed
honey in the hive, as is
possible with stimula-
tive feeding. Sometimes it seems that uncapping a portion
of the honey has a stimulating effect, but feeding in small
quantities, for the purpose of stimulating the bees to greater
activity, rarely seems necessary until the time comes to give
them the cells. At this time feeding is often needed in order
to get large batches accepted and finished. When honey
is coming in from natural sources, feeding is, of course, unneces-
The real problem is to get the bees into the right temper
to accept the cells readily, and finish a large portion of them
properly. This point has been touched upon rather indirectly,
Fig. 28. Only strong colonies should be
used for building or finishing cells.
72 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
already, under the discussion of the various methods. A strong
colony which is preparing to supersede the queen is very desir-
able at this time. Such a colony will accept cells readily and
will supply them with royal jelly abundantly. No better cells
can be had than those built in a supersedure colony. It will
pay to look through the apiary very carefully in search of such
a colony, rather than to resort to artificial conditions. A colony
which is preparing to swarm, will do very well, also, only they
must be watched carefully, to make sure that a swarm does
not issue as soon as the cells are sealed. When a colony is
found to have queen cells already built which contain eggs or
larvae, these cells may be destroyed and a frame of prepared
cells given. Little attention need be paid to the presence of
the queen, for she will not disturb the new cells under such con-
If no colony is to be had which is already in the cell-build-
ing notion, it then becomes necessary to stimulate the cell-
building instinct artificially. There are several methods of
Removing Queen and Brood.
Probably the most generally practiced method is to take
a strong colony, and remove the queen and all unsealed brood.
Empty combs and those which contain only honey and pollen
are left in the hive. The queen should be placed in a nucleus,
or given to another colony where needed. All bees should be
carefully brushed from the combs containing the brood in order
to leave as large a force of nurse bees as possible. The brood
is then given to another colony to be cared for.
About ten or twelve hours later the bees will be in the mood
to build queen cells. Being without brood, the nurse bees
will be abundantly supplied with food for the larvae, and will
accept a batch of prepared cells very eagerly.
When giving the cells, it is well to follow the practice of
some of the most extensive breeders and feed liberally at the
moment, to insure a larger portion of cells accepted. For this
purpose an ordinary garden sprinkler serves very well. Thin
REMOVING QUEEN AND BROOD 73
sugar syrup is sprinkled freely over the tops of the frames as
described previously. The bees gorge themselves in cleaning
up the syrup and anxiously seek larvae to be fed. This method
of feeding is desirable at the time of giving cells by any method.
Some breeders leave the prepared cells in the colony to
which they are first given until they are sealed. However, a
larger number of first class cells will usually be secured by work-
ing two colonies together, one as a cell-building colony and the
second as a cell-finishing colony. The cell-finishing colony
should be equally strong with the cell-starting colony, but not
all the brood is taken from it. At the time that the brood is
taken from the first colony, part of the brood is removed from
another, and the remainder raised above an excluder, leaving
the queen in the brood nest below on one frame of brood, and
with empty combs in which to continue laying. This we will
call the finishing colony.
Twenty-four hours after the prepared cells have been given
to the queenless and broodless bees in the cell-starting hive, we
will probably find most of the cells partly built, and the larvae
abundantly supplied with royal jelly. If we leave them as
they are, some of these cells are likely to be neglected, so that
not all will come to maturity. We may now safely remove these
cells and after carefully brushing off the nurse bees with a
feather, give them to the cell-finishing colony, placing the frames
above the excluder. By this time the bees in the second colony
will have been forty-eight hours separated from the 'queen
which still remains below the excluder. Since no eggs have
been laid with the brood above for this period, the bees are
in much the same condition as a colony with a failing queen
and accordingly accept the cells as readily, as a rule, as a super-
sedure colony will do.
When the batch of started cells is taken from the starting
colony, it is given a second lot of newly prepared cells. This
may be repeated regularly for some time. However, the same
bees cannot serve as nurses for very long and it will be necessary
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
to supply the starting
colony with frames of
sealed brood ready to
emerge at frequent in-
tervals if the same col-
ony is used as a cell-
starting colony for more
than ten days. ^Usually
the number of cells ac-
cepted in each batch
will soon begin to di-
minish, so that it will
be desirable to prepare
another colony for this
purpose after eight or
There is a great
difference in individual
colonies as to the num-
ber of cells built, and
it sometimes becomes
necessary to experiment a bit to find the best_colonies for this
purpose. Some colonies will build double the number of cells
that others will build. An extensive breeder will find it neces-
sary to have several cell-building colonies at one time. Figure
29 shows a strong cell-finishing colony at the Davis apiary in
The Swarm Box.
Alley used much the same plan as above described, except
that he first found the queen and then shook all the bees into
a swarm box which is made by placing a wirecloth bottom and
cover on an ordinary box of suitable size. The bees were
smoked before shaking them into the box to induce them to
gorge themselves with honey, and then they were confined in
the box from morning until evening. The wirecloth admits
plenty of air and by the time the bees are placed in a hive for
Fig. 29. A strong cell-finishing colony.
REARING QUEENS IN QUEENRIGHT COLONIES 75
cell building, they will recognize their hopelessly queenless con-
dition, and be ready to accept the prepared cells with little
delay. Alley gave eggs in strips of natural comb, instead of
the prepared cells, it will be remembered, but the principle
is the same. He left the bees queenless in the swarm box for
at least ten hours. He also fed the bees syrup while confined
in the box.
Rearing Queens in Queenright Colonies.
The author prefers to rear queens in a queenright colony,
since it is not so difficult to maintain normal conditions over a
long period of time, and the bees are not so sensitive to fluctua-
tions in weather conditions or honeyflow. It is not always
possible to make a success with the first batch of cells given
by this plan, but once accepted the same colony can be kept
busy rearing cells for weeks, or even all summer if desired.
One plan which is followed by successful breeders is to
select a strong colony for cell building. Remove the cover,
and put a queen excluder in its place. Then take enough
frames of brood from several different colonies to fill a second
brood-chamber above the excluder, leaving one vacant space.
Care must be used to make sure that no queen is on the frames
placed in the second story. The vacant space is left as near
the center of the colony as possible, and a few hours later a
frame of prepared cells is placed there, feeding the bees with
syrup from the sprinkling can at the time the cells are given.
If this first batch of cells is not readily accepted try again the
following day. After four days a second batch can be given,
and a new batch every four days thereafter. By this plan the
cells are left with the colony until ready to be given to the
nuclei. It only becomes necessary to add two or three frames
of sealed brood every week to provide the colony with plenty
of young bees for nurses, to continue cell building indefinitely.
About ten to fifteen sealed cells can be secured from a single
colony every four days by this plan. If a heavy honeyflow comes
on, it may become necessary to add supers between the brood
76 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
nest below and the cell-building chamber above, since the old
queen continues to lay in normal manner below the excluder.
By this method the cell-building colony will give a crop of honey
as well as queens. The addition of so much brood from other
colonies will keep the cell-building colony very strong through-
out the season. Of course, frames of honey must be removed
from time to time as frames of brood are given, and, during a
good flow, it may become necessary to remove frames of
honey quite often to prevent crowding in the cell-building
During a dearth of nectar it often becomes necessary to
resort to stimulative feeding to induce the bees to continue
cell building by any of these methods. Of course, a queenless
colony will build some cells under almost any conditions, but
to get good cells in sufficient numbers, a fresh supply of food
must continue coming to the hive daily. If there is none in the
field a pint or more of thin syrup should be fed daily, preferably
at night, to prevent robbing.
Care of Finished Cells.
About four days after the prepared cell cups are given
to the bees, the finished cells will be sealed, Figure 30. If the
weather is warm they may be placed in cages and transferred
to other colonies for safe keeping, until time for the young
queens to emerge. However, in cool weather, there is danger
that the young queens will be chilled and injured, if the cells
are placed in cages so that the nurses can no longer warm them
by direct contact. Most breeders leave the cells to the care
of the bees until the evening of the ninth day. The cells are
then caged or given directly to the nuclei, where they are to be
Fig. 30. Finished cells by the Doolittle method,
78 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
mated. In general, it is better to place the cell at once in
Great care must always be used in handling sealed queen
cells. Any slight jar is likely to dislodge the nymph from its bed
of royal jelly and injure it seriously. The bees which may cluster
about the cells may be driven off by smoking them or by care-
fully brushing them away. The longer the cells are left undis-
turbed, the less the danger of injury to the young queens. The
bees should never be shaken from a frame containing queen
It is necessary to separate cells built by the Alley plan by
cutting with a sharp knife. The knife should be kept warm
to get best results. Otherwise, instead of cutting freely it may
simply crush the wax and injure a cell. Figure 21 shows how
the cells may be cut apart.
It is important, also, to keep the cells right side up at all
times. Some breeders use a cell block such as may be seen at
Figure 22. This enables the breeder to carry a whole batch
to the apiary to be placed, one at a time, in the nuclei, without
danger of injuring them.
It often happens that a batch of cells will be ripe and the
nuclei not yet ready to receive them for one reason or another.
In that case, candy should be placed in the nursery cages, and
the cells placed in them on the ninth or tenth day after the cells
are given to the bees. It should be remembered that the queens
will emerge on the fifteenth or sixteenth day after the eggs were
laid. Should a virgin queen emerge before the cells are removed
and cared for, she is likely to destroy at once all that remain.
Thus all the beekeeper's labor is for naught.
It is necessary to exercise some care in extremely hot weath-
er to avoid overheating the cells when carrying them about in
the hot sun. Well known queen breeders admit having lost
valuable cells on more than one occasion by overheating through
exposure to direct sunshine on a hot day.
In placing the cells in the nuclei the cell should be gently
pushed into the side of a comb just above the brood, if there is
brood. However, it often happens that no brood is present
USE OF CELL PROTECTORS
Fig 31. Placing cell in nucleus without brood.
in a nucleus when a cell is placed. In that event it should be
set into the comb near the center of the hive. Figure 31.
Use of Cell Protectors.
If a nucleus has been queenless for
twelve hours when a ripe cell is introduced,
there will seldom be any need for using
protectors. However, it often happens
that the breeder will have ripe cells ready
which he wishes to place as fast as the
queens are removed. When the bees
destroy queen cells they do so by opening
the cell at the side, and never from the
C ell protectors.
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
end. Taking advantage of this fact a wire protector has been
made which remains open at the end, thus permitting the queen
to emerge without further attention, Figure 32. By the time
the queen is ready to emerge, the bees will discover the absence
of the old queen and the newcomer will be welcomed.
Formation of Nuclei.
In the chapter on equipment for queen rearing, the various
styles of mating boxes and hives have been described. If
the standard hive is used, the formation of nuclei is a simple
matter. As many colonies as may be needed to make the de-
sired number of nuclei are broken up, and the combs together
with adhering bees are placed in the nuclei. One frame with
the old queen is left in the old hive, and it is usually well to
leave a second frame of brood with her, to enable her to build
Fig. 33. A queen-mating yard composed of standard hives, each divided
into two parts.
STOCKING MATING BOXES OR BABY NUCLEI 81
up the colony again more rapidly. The rest of the space is
filled with empty combs. One frame of brood and bees, to-
gether with one empty comb or one containing honey, is placed
in each nucleus, Figure 33. The entrance is then stopped with
grass to prevent the escape of the bees for several hours. By
the time they have gnawed their way out they will become
accustomed to the new condition, and most of them will remain
in the new position. Unless the frame given is well supplied
with brood, it is desirable to give two frames to each nucleus.
A day or two later sealed queen cells may be given safely.
As the season advances, the demand for queens increases, and
the breeder will find it necessary to increase the number of
mating nuclei. As each queen is allowed to lay for a short
time in the nucleus before caged for shipment, many of the
nuclei will build up rapidly. From time to time one will be
found which can spare a frame of brood and bees as already
described. At the close of the season these nuclei are united
to make them strong enough to winter as full colonies.
Stocking Mating Boxes or Baby Nuclei.
Much difficulty is sometimes experienced in getting the
bees to stay in these small hives. The plan usually recommended
is to shake the bees into a wirecloth cage and confine them
there for several hours. Four or five hours later run in a virgin
queen among them. At nightfall, shake them into the mating
box and leave them undisturbed for a few days. Some of the
old bees may return to their former hive the next morning,
but most of them are likely to remain. There is some danger
that they may swarm out with the queen when she comes
out for her mating flight. However, after one queen has been
successfully mated and there is some brood in the little hive,
there will be less trouble with the next one. These little hives
must be watched to make sure that they do not at any time
become short of food, otherwise they sometimes swarm out and
leave the brood.
The available space is so small that the queen can be left
82 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
but a very short time. The two little combs are soon filled
with eggs and with no more room to lay, the queen may lead a
small swarm, and thus desert the hive.
Another plan of stocking these hives is to shake a lot of
bees from several hives into a box with wirecloth top and bottom
similar to the Alley swarm box, and keep them confined for
several hours. It is desirable that these bees be brought from
a distance, if possible. When ready to stock the mating hives,
wet the bees enough to prevent flying readily and dip them out
with a tin dipper, turning a sufficient quantity into each com-
partment. A supply of virgin queens is ready at hand, and as
each compartment is filled, a virgin is dropped into a dish of
honey and then into the compartment with the bees. The
entrance is opened at night to prevent the loss of bees before
the excitement subsides. This is the plan practiced at the
Combining Mating with Making of Increase.
The usual methods of artificial increase, such as division
or formation of nuclei to be built up, weaken the colony to a
considerable extent. Should the season prove unfavorable
Fig. 34. A queen-rearing apiary in Tennessee.
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
after nuclei are formed, it may be necessary to feed them for
a long period of time, only in the end to find it necessary to
unite them again to get them strong enough for winter. Get-
ting queens mated in an upper story is not new; yet there are some
elements in the following plan which differ somewhat from
methods previously given to the public.
The author has experimented to a limited extent in the
hope of finding a plan which takes nothing from the parent
colony, other than the honey necessary to rear the brood com-
posing the new colony. There is no risk, since the old colony
is not weakened by removing part of the field force, and the
division is not made until the new colony is strong enough to
shift for itself under almost any conditions. The following
plan comes near realizing this ideal, having been uniformly
successful in a limited way, even under unfavorable conditions.
This is the outgrowth of a system of swarm control in the pro-
Fig. 35. Queen-mating nuclei under the pine trees of Alabama.
COMBINING MATING WITH MAKING OF INCREASE 85
duction of extracted honey, as described in Productive Beekeep-
If the extracted honey producer can keep his colony to-
gether during the season, he should be able to get maximum
results. Some increase is necessary in most any apiary, with
any kind of system, to replace such colonies as are lost through
failing queens, poor wintering or other causes, even though
the beekeeper does not care to make extensions.
If the bees can be kept from swarming and the young
queen be mated in a separate compartment, she can rear her
own colony in due time, and they can be removed without
reducing the product of the old queen, whose progeny will
remain with the parent colony.
To begin with, when the colony becomes populous, place
the queen on a frame of brood in an empty hivebody and fill
out with empty combs. This is set on the regular hivestand
occupied by the colony. The working force coming from the
field will find their queen with an abundance of room in which
to lay. This is the system of swarm control advocated by
Demaree to this point. Now place a queen excluder over the
hivebody containing the queen, and over this, a super of empty
combs. On top of these is set the original hivebody contain-
ing the brood. A hole is bored in this upper hivebody to give
the bees an extra entrance above. About twenty-four hours
later a ripe queen cell is placed in the upper story with the
brood. The queen will emerge in a day or two, and, in due
time, will leave the hive on her mating flight, by way of the
augur hole. Within a few days more she will be laying in the
upper hivebody, while the activities of the bees will continue
without interruption in the lower story. Within three weeks
all the brood from the old queen (in the upper story) will have
emerged. The brood which now appears in the upper story
is a net addition to the resources of the colony, and, when the
upper story is nearly filled with brood, it can be removed and
placed on a new stand without checking the work of the colony.
To illustrate: A strong colony was given a queen cell
as above described on May 21st. On July 14th, the upper
86 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
hivebody with a young queen and seven frames of brood were
removed to form a new colony. The strength of the parent
colony was little affected apparently. Possible swarming had
been prevented, temporarily at least, by the Demaree plan
of placing the old queen in the empty hive below. There were
two colonies better than any parent colony and swarm we had
that season. In this way there had been no risk or loss. The
new colony was not removed from its parent until both were
provided for, neither was the possible crop cut short by dividing
the working force of the parent colony at a critical time.
After three years of success with this method the author
feels confident that it will prove successful on a large scale.
Both queens can be left in the hive until the close of the honey-
flow if desired, but there is little to be gained by leaving the
queen above after her chamber is filled with brood. If both
are left in the hive until late in the fall, one of the queens is
likely to disappear.
If desired, the process can be repeated as soon as the upper
story has been removed, as by this time the old queen will have
filled the lower story with brood again. By beginning early,
it should be possible to make two and possibly three new colonies,
without reducing the honey crop from the parent colony to a
This same plan might be used for the purpose of mating
additional queens while making some increase, by the breeder
who wishes to accomplish both ends at the same time. The
method is particularly valuable to the honey producer who wish-
es to make some increase or rear queens for use in his own apiary,
without reducing the honey crop. If increase is not especially
desired, the same plan can be worked for the purpose of super-
seding queens. When the young queen has become nicely
established in the upper chamber, the old queen can be removed
from below and the position of the bodies reversed. It would
be well to permit both queens to continue laying until the height
of the honeyflow, in order to get as large a field force as possible
for storing the crop.
The Benton cage, Figure 36, is almost universally used in
this country for shipping purposes. So generally is it used,
that it is as staple as any other item
of beekeeping equipment, and can be
purchased through any dealer in
supplies. While cages ready stocked
with candy are offered for sale, most
queen breeders prefer to make their
Fig. 36. Qwn canc [y anc j th us save some cost,
The Benton mailing cage.
as well as making it fresh as needed.
Making the Candy.
Candy for queen cages is made of honey and sugar. Under
the postal regulations it is necessary to boil the honey for at
least thirty minutes, unless the apiary from which it and the
queens are taken has been inspected by some duly qualified
officer, who is authorized to issue a certificate of health.
Care must be used, also, to make sure that the sugar used
contains no starch. Powdered sugar is used for candy making,
and some powdered sugar contains starch, which is detrimental
to the bees confined for long in the cages.
Heat the honey and stir in as much of the powdered sugar
as can be mixed in by stirring. When no more can be added
by stirring, spread the powdered sugar on a mixing board and
remove the dough to the board and mix it like a batch of bis-
cuits. Some experience is necessary to determine when it is
just the right consistency, neither too hard nor too soft.
According to Root, boiled honey as required by the postal
regulations, does not give satisfactory results where queens are
confined for long journeys. Since the idea of the regulation is
88 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
to prevent the spread of disease through the honey, he recom-
mends the use of invert sugar as a substitute for the honey.
Another kind of candy made without the use of honey,
is used by some breeders. This is made by using 12 pounds of
granulated sugar, 1^ pounds candy-makers' glucose, \y^
quarts of water and y$ teaspoonful of cream of tartar. The
cream of tartar and glucose are added to the water and heated
together in a kettle. The sugar is added after the mixture
comes to a boil, stirring continually while putting in the sugar.
After the sugar has all been dissolved, stop stirring and let it
heat to 238 degrees. Then remove from the fire and let cool
to 120 degrees, and stir again until it looks like paste, when it is
ready for use.
Caging the Queens.
With a few trials, one will shortly get the knack of catching
a queen off the comb by her wings. Holding the cage open end
downward in one hand, it is easy to so place her head in the open-
ing that she will catch her front feet on the wood, and readily
climb up into the cage. When she goes in, the thumb should
be placed over the opening until a worker is caught, and ready
to follow in similar manner. The novice at queen rearing often
makes the mistake of placing too few bees in the cage with a
queen. It is well to place as many workers in the cage as there
is room for, without crowding, especially if the journey to be
taken is a long one. As a rule the queen will be the last to die,
if the bees are in normal condition when placed in the cage.
It often happens that queens received from a distant place are
still alive, with all their attendant workers dead in the cage.
Of course the queen would not much longer survive after the
workers were all dead. If the candy is properly made and suffi-
cient in quantity, a queen will often live for several weeks in
a cage, with sufficient attendants.
After queens are caged they should be placed in the mails as
quickly as possible to avoid confining them longer than is neces-
sary. Although they live for a considerable time in the cages,
one can hardly believe that the confinement is conducive to
the health of the queen, and the shorter the time necessary
to get her to her destination, the better.
What the Buyer has a Right to Expect.
When a man sends his money for a queen in response to
an advertisement, he has a right to expect that no inferior
queens be sent, even though he buy untested stock. Some
breeders have the reputation of sending out mismated queens
that have been laying for a period long enough to show the fact,
as untested queens. While few breeders guarantee that un-
tested queens will be purely mated, to knowingly send out mis-
mated stock, to fill orders for untested queens, is certainly
dishonest. It is needless to say that no reputable breeder would
do so. The breeder who expects to establish a paying business
has no asset so valuable as the confidence of his customers,
and this is only secured by sending out good stock and standing
ready to be more than reasonable in making good any losses.
The buyer has reason to expect that he will receive pure
queens, carefully reared; that the breeder shall maintain his
mating nuclei in localities as free as possible from impure stock,
and entirely free from disease.
There is a great difference in the practice of different breed-
ers in the way queens are graded. Some advertise only three
grades, untested, tested and select tested queens. Others
make five or more grades, adding select-untested queens and
breeders. There should be some effort made to establish a
standard by which a buyer can tell in advance what he is likely
to get from an order for any one of these grades.
In general, an untested queen is one which has been mated
and has been permitted to lay for a few days, but not long
enough for the emergence of the workers. Breeders who
make it a rule to send out all queens which are reared, regardless
of quality, are not likely to build up a permanent business.
90 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
No poor queens should be sent out in any case, except by special
understanding, and then not for breeding purposes. There
is a small demand for queens for scientific purposes, which can
be supplied with mismated or otherwise inferior stock without
injury to anyone. Such queens should never be sent to a bee-
keeper for introduction into normal colonies for honey pro-
A tested queen is generally one which has been permitted
to lay until her workers begin to emerge, and thus by their
markings demonstrate the pure mating of their mother. She
should properly demonstrate other qualities also. Select-
tested and extra select- tested or choice select-tested queens are, of
course, queens which for one reason or another are more promis-
ing than the average of tested queens. Too many grades
offers a good chance for the breeder to get an extra price from
a buyer, without giving an equivalent in value. It is very true
that queens showing unusual traits are worth more than the gen-
eral run of queens, but it is difficult to grade the different de-
grees of behaviour into a half dozen different classes and always
give a uniform value.
Virgin queens, are of course, unmated queens. While
there may be occasionally a good reason for the purchase of
virgins, as a rule the practice is not to be encouraged. The
difficulty of introducing a virgin after she is several days old
and consequent danger of loss, is one good reason why they
should not be shipped. The danger that they will become too
old for mating before a favorable opportunity is offered, is
another. The breeder who confines his business principally
to the sale of untested queens, and who gives good value for the
price asked, is the one who has the fewest complaints.
Much dissatisfaction arises from the sale of breeding queens
at high prices. The buyer who pays five or ten dollars for a
breeding queen, will too often expect too much of her, and,
consequently, be disappointed. Then it often happens that a
queen old enough to demonstrate her value as a breeder, will be
superseded shortly after her introduction into a strange colony.
Queens that have been laying heavily suffer seriously from the
confinement in a small cage and the journey through the mails.
Often they will never do as well for the buyer as they have
done previously, and he is inclined to feel that he has not been
treated fairly. As a rule, the same money invested in young
untested queens, will bring far better results to the buyer, as
well as being better for the seller. If a half dozen young queens
are purchased from a breeder with good stock, at least one of
them is quite likely to prove excellent. The best queen that
the author ever has known he secured as an untested queen at a
nominal price. There is probably no extensive queen rearing
yard which would part with as good a queen for fifty dollars
after she had demonstrated her value. In fact, she would not
be for sale at any price, for she would be too valuable as a breed-
er. Yet the chances are that, after she had demonstrated her
ability by outdoing everything else in the apiary for three suc-
cessive seasons, she would be superseded within a few weeks
after being sent through the mails.
Buyers should bear in mind that old queens which have
laid heavily for one or more seasons, cannot be expected to re-
peat their former performances after a journey by mail. Such
queens can only be shipped safely on combs in a nucleus, where
they can continue laying lightly for some time. Someone has
compared the sudden checking of the work of a laying queen,
with the shipment of a cow, which is a heavy milk'er, without
drawing her milk for several days. Neither can be expected
to be as good again.
The Introduction of Queens.
In order to be successful in the introduction of queens, it is
necessary to overcome the antagonism of the colony toward
a stranger. It must be borne in mind that, normally, a strange
bee will be recognized as an enemy or a robber and at once
driven out or killed. In order that the queen be welcomed
as a member of the community, it is necessary that she be
permitted to acquire the colony odor, and that she become some-
what familiar with her new surroundings so that she will not
manifest, by her own excitement, the fact that she is a stranger.
There are many indications of the colony odor and, in the absence
of proof to the contrary, it is safe to assume that the bees depend
upon this common odor as a means of identification of the mem-
bers of the community.
There are many different methods of introduction of queens,
which are followed with greater or lesser degrees of success.
All these methods may be divided into two classes: those which
depend upon the confinement of the queen until she acquires
the common characteristics of the hive, as the cage methods;
and those which create such an abnormal condition and so much
confusion in the hive, that the undue excitement of one or more
individuals will not be noticed, as the smoke or other direct
Under the first plan, the bees are at first antagonistic to the
new queen, which is recognized as a stranger, but are unable
to reach her because of the barrier furnished by the screen
covering the cage. After a time the bees recognize the fact
that no other queen is present in the hive, the antagonism dis-
appears, and she is accepted as the natural mother of the com-
Under any method in the second class, the colony is thrown
into a state of excitement and uproar, to such an extent that the
agitation and fear manifested by the new queen, upon finding
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
Fig. 37. The Miller introducing cage,
herself in a strange hive, will not be apparent to the bees, since
they are also in a state of confusion. By the time the excite-
ment subsides, the foreign odor of the new queen will no longer
be apparent, and she will settle down to the business of egg lay-
ing as though she had always been present in the hive. By this
method it is the usual way to remove the old queen either
shortly before or just at the time the new queen is introduced.
Details of Cage Methods.
All the variations of the cage method are comparatively
simple. The old queen is first removed from the hive and the
new one is introduced
in a cage, Figure 37.
Probably the safest
method of all is the
one where the queen is
placed alone in a cage that covers a small patch of emerging
brood. The emerging bees are, of course, friendly enough,
and within two or three days she will be laying in her small
enclosure and surrounded by a small group of attendants
who found her present when they emerged. The cage is then
carefully removed, and the comb replaced in the hive with as
little disturbance as possible. Such a cage is made with a
piece of ordinary wirecloth about four inches square, sometimes
smaller. Each of the four corners is cut away for about three
quarters of an inch. The four sides are then bent down,
forming a wire box open at the bottom. The queen is placed
under this and the wire pressed into the comb. It is well to
have a few cells of sealed honey inside the cage, although the
bees are likely to feed the queen through the meshes of the cage.
When this plan is used in a hive where no brood is present,
some newly emerged workers should be placed in the cage with
the queen. The attitude of the bees toward the queen will
determine when it is safe to release her. If on opening the hive,
the cage is found to be covered with a tight cluster of bees, she
would be balled immediately if released. When the bees are
DETAILS OF CAGE METHODS
found to be paying but little attention to her presence, it is
usually safe to remove the cage.
The Benton mailing cages are stocked with candy before
the queens are confined. Usually there will be quite a little
of this candy still left, at the time the queens are to be introduced.
If so, all that is necessary is to remove the old queen, remove
the paper across the exit hole which is filled with candy, and leave
it to the bees to remove the candy, and release the queen. It is
likely to require from one to three days to remove the candy, and
by that time, there is little danger to the new queen. If but little
candy remains, the paper should be left over the hole for a day or
two before removing. When the paper is removed, if the candy is
almost gone, a little broken comb honey may be pushed into the
cavity. Bees are likely to be friendly to the queen which has been
caged in the hive for two days, and the bees which remove the
honey are likely to gorge themselves to the point of quietude.
Some beekeepers by going to a little extra trouble, insure
Fig. 38. A Mississippi queen-rearing apiary.
96 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
success by this method. When new queens are ordered they
cage the old queens in the hive until the newcomers arrive.
The old queens are then destroyed, and the new ones placed in
the same cages and replaced in the same hives. The cages
have already acquired the hive odors, and the bees have become
accustomed to the presence of their queens in the cages. By
the time the candy has been removed, there is a very small
element of danger.
The easiest time for direct introduction of queens is during
a heavy honeyflow. At such a time the bees will be in a con-
stant state of activity because of the wealth of honey coming
in, and queens can be introduced with a minimum of danger.
At such times, the author has gone to the hives to be requeened,
caught the old queens and run in the new ones, with little effort
to disarrange the affairs of the community, yet the plan worked
with entire success with colony after colony. Many of the di-
rect methods which are so successful during a honeyflow, must
be followed very carefully under other conditions, or failure
There are several of the direct methods, familiarly known as
smoke method, flour method, water, and honey methods, etc.
The same principle underlies them all. In every case the object
is to develop such an abnormal condition within the hive, that
the change of queens can be made without the fact being dis-
covered by the bees.
The smoke method has recently been exploited as something
new. Some of the details of the practice are all that is new,
for Alley described a similar way of introducing queens by means
of tobacco smoke as long ago as 1885. He directed as follows:
"When tobacco smoke is used to introduce them, throw some grass
against the entrance to keep the smoke in and the bees from coming
out. Blow in a liberal amount of smoke, and then let the queen run in
at the top through the hole used for the cone-feeder."
The method as advocated by A. C. Miller does not antici-
pate the use of tobacco, but the ordinary smoke always avail-
able to the beekeeper with a lighted smoker. He describes his
plan as follows:
"A colony to receive a queen has the entrance reduced to about
a square inch with whatever is convenient, as grass, weeds, rags or wood,
and then about three puffs of thick white smoke because such smoke
is safe is blown in and the entrance closed. It should be explained
that there is a seven-eighths inch space below the frames, so that the
smoke which is blown in at the entrance, readily spreads and penetrates
to all parts of the hive. In from fifteen to twenty seconds the colony
will be roaring. The small space at the entrance is now opened; the
queen is run in, followed by a gentle puff of smoke, and the entrance
again closed and left closed for about ten minutes, when it is reopened,
and the bees allowed to ventilate and quiet down. The full entrance
is not given for an hour or more, or even until the next day."
Neither of the smoke methods above given, nor, for that
matter, most of the direct methods, are entirely reliable under
adverse conditions. The great advantage in the use of such
a method is the saving in time. Some queen breeders of the
author's acquaintance have used the smoke method extensively
for this reason, and with good success. Introducing a queen
which is taken from a hive or nucleus and given at once to anoth-
Fig. 39. A queen-rearing apiary in Georgia.
98 PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
er, is a much simpler matter than the introduction of a queen
which has been caged for a week and probably travelled several
hundred miles in a mailbag, where she had opportunity to ac-
quire all kinds of foreign odors. The experienced man will
soon learn when he can with safety depend upon a short cut,
and when there is danger in doing so.
Honey and Flour Methods.
These methods are similar except that in one case honey is
used and in the other case flour is the medium. The honey
method is used with good success in introducing virgins to bees
in packages, after they have been confined for a few hours.
The queen is simply dropped into a cup of honey and entirely
submerged in it, and then dropped in among the bees, which at
once proceed to clean her up. For introducing queens into full
colonies, this plan does not always succeed.
Where the queen is covered with flour, she may be accepted
or not, depending much upon other conditions. Where the
honey method is used, the queen is much more likely to be
accepted if the honey in which she is dipped is taken from the
hive to which she is to be given, at the time of her introduction.
This method requires a little more trouble, but is generally
successful according to reports, and also according to the auth-
or's experience. The bees are shaken from the combs, and
sprinkled with water until they are soaking wet. The new
queen is wet likewise and dropped on the pile of wet bees in
the bottom of the hive. The combs are then replaced and the
Neither of these methods is attractive, since it hardly seems
like proper treatment to give a valuable queen.
Introduction of Virgins.
A newly emerged queen while she is still downy, say within
half an hour of the time of her emergence, can be run into any
INTRODUCTION OF VIRGINS 99
queenless colony or nucleus with safety. The bees are appar-
ently conscious that any bee of such a tender age is incapable
of harm, and she is accepted as a child of the community.
For such, it is not necessary to provide any artificial stimulus
of any kind; smoke, flour, or water are all unnecessary.
Virgins that are four or five days old are more difficult
to introduce, than are fertile queens. Alley recommended dip-
ping the virgin in honey, thinned with a little water as above
described, and then dropping her into the queenless hive. He
wrote that virgins could only be introduced successfully to
colonies that had been queenless for at least three days. It
has often been advised to leave colonies queenless for this per-
iod before introducing fertile queens, but the author prefers
to give a fertile queen immediately on removing the old queen.
With virgins there is a larger element of danger.
Spreading Disease from the Queen Yard.
It is an unfortunate fact that much of the responsibility
for the present wide-spread prevalence of foulbrood must be
laid at the door of the careless queen breeder. Foulbrood has
been introduced into many localities by the purchase of queens
from diseased apiaries. The queen breeder cannot use too
much care in keeping his apiary and his locality free from dis-
ease. In any event, queens should not be mailed to purchasers
from an apiary where disease is present. In our present state
of knowledge of European foulbrood, it is uncertain in just
what manner the disease is spread, but it is very probable that
a queen bee, taken from a diseased colony, might be the means
of introducing it into a healthy colony, even though no honey
or bees accompany her.
It is reasonably certain that there is little danger of the
spread of American foulbrood, except in the honey from dis-
eased colonies. The postal regulation which requires that honey
used to make candy, to stock queen cages to be sent through
the mails, be boiled for thirty minutes, is supposed to meet all
requirements. While this may be true, as far as American
foulbrood is concerned, it is not sufficient protection for the
purchaser, from European foulbrood or paralysis.
The late O. O. Poppleton related something of his experience
with paralysis, to the writer. For a time he had serious losses
among his bees from this disease. He was finally able to trace
the trouble to the introduction of queens from the yards of a
well known breeder. By requeening all his yards with a dif-
ferent strain of bees, he was able to eliminate the disease.
Later he introduced the same disorder to his apiaries again
with queens from another source. On investigating the matter,
he was surprised to learn that the man from whom he bought
PRACTICAL QUEEN REARING
the new lot of queens, had previously purchased a breeding
queen from the breeder from whom he had first contracted the
disease. It accordingly became necessary to requeen his apiaries
with new stock, a second time, to get rid of paralysis.
Diseases of adult bees are, as yet, but little understood;
but it is quite probable that there are several different diseases,
all of which are known under the general name of paralysis.
It is very evident that this trouble, whatever its nature, is
widely disseminated by the sale of queens and bees in packages.
The trouble has long been prevalent in the south, especially
in Florida, but, of late, it is becoming common in many northern
localities. It has attracted special notice in Wisconsin and
Washington. In dry and warm seasons it is not serious, but in
cold and damp summers becomes a serious problem.
Cases have been called to the writer's attention, where
all the bees introduced from a certain locality have died with
Fig. 40. A Minnesota queen yard.
SPREADING DISEASE FROM THE QUEEN YARD 103
this disorder, while the stock which had previously been pres-
ent in the apiary remained in healthy condition.
If the business of queen breeding is to remain permanent
and profitable, it is highly desirable that concerted action be
taken, looking to the control of shipment of queens or bees
from diseased apiaries. The buyer should be assured that he
will not endanger his future prospects by buying queens anywhere
that they are offered. About the only solution that seems readily
apparent is federal supervision of queen yards. An increasing
number of expert beekeepers are being employed in the exten-
sion service of the United States department, and these could
be used to inspect all queen-breeding apiaries at least once each
year, in connection with their other work.
Several of the states have provision for the inspection of
queen-breeding apiaries, and withhold certificates of health
from apiaries where disease is found. However, not all the
states have inspection and those that have do not have uniform
regulations. The shipment of both bees and queens is becom-
ing so general that uniform interstate 'regulations are very de-
In the opinion of the author, the future of the business
depends very much on the attitude which the queen breeders,
as a class, assume toward this question.
Books On Beekeeping For Sale by
American Bee Journal
REVISED BY DADANT.
THIS book originally written
by Rev. L. L. Langstroth,
the inventor of the movable
frame hive, has been revised and
kept up to date by the editor of
the American Bee Journal. It
is the one book that no bee-
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out. It contains careful and
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mysteries of the hive. Full and
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1,000 QUESTIONS ABOUT BEES
ANSWERED BY DR. C. C. MILLER.
T71OR many years Doctor Miller has conducted the question and answer department
1 in The American Bee Journal. During that time he has answered questions
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No matter what your problem is, you will find the answer in this book, for bee-
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The texts tell a connected story of bee life and the principles of honey produc-
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are taken up and made clear by the most popular writer on beekeeping.
Should be included in every list of bee books.
Attractive cloth cover; 200 pages; $1.25.
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Books On Beekeeping For Sale by the
American Bee Journal
BY FRANK C. PELLETT
ONE of the latest text books on bee-
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of the United States and Canada and has
described the systems of management which
are successfully employed under a wide range
of conditions. The best methods have been
studied, sifted and excellently arranged.
A Lippincott Farm Manual, 134 illustra-
tions, 320 pages.
9. Production of Comb Honey.
10. Production of Extracted Honey.
1 1 . Wax, A By-Product.
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14. Marketing the Honey Crop.
15. Laws That Concern the Bee-
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Arrangement of the Apiary.
Sources of Nectar.
The Occupants of the Hive.
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FIRST LESSONS IN BEEKEEPING
BY C. P. DADANT.
FOR many years a book under the above title has been in the market. It
was originally written by Thos. G. Newman, and later revised by C. P.
While the present book bears the same title, it is entirely new and has been rewrit-
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new one also, for it is a far better book than the old one ever was, and it is right up to
The senior editor of The American Bee Journal, who is the author of the New
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make beekeeping a practical business.
Of late Mr. Dadant has traveled extensively, both in Europe and America, and
is familiar with the best methods of honey production and with the leading beekeepers
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Just the things you want to know, in a style easily understood, and with many
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You may safely recommend First Lessons in Beekeeping to your friends.
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