Beekeeping & Wildlife Supplies, Cornwall, South West UK

Morris Board

© There are three requirements to consider for queen bee rearing.
1. Larvae of a suitable age.
2. A colony in the best condition to make queen cells.
3. Colonies to house the resulting queens.
Many different methods can be used to produce any of the above. No method is 100% successful and no method suits everyone which is why there are so many methods. One of the aspects of queen rearing that make it so fascinating and rewarding is experimenting to find the method that suits your requirements.
This method produces the requirement of number 2 above. The requirements of 1 and 3 are not dealt with here but any method can be used.
The Morris board is used in conjunction with our 5 Frame ½ Bee Hives to produce a colony in the best condition to make queen cells. It has the advantage of allowing the consecutive production and development of multiple queen cells in the natural, optimum environment of a queenright and foraging colony.
As with all queen rearing methods, this method requires a strong colony, good flying weather and a nectar flow or feeding with 50% sugar syrup.
The colony chosen for the method must have a large population filling at least one standard deep box.
Ideally it should be in two standard deep boxes with bees covering most of the frames. A colony can be built up to this size by adding emergent brood combs from other colonies before the method is used if needed.
The top of the board is divided into halves so there will be a bee proof separation between two ½ hive boxes placed on top. Each half is fitted with a queen excluder panel and a hinged entrance at the front on the top of the board. The bottom of the board has one central hinged entrance at the front and at the back. A separate acrylic divider is also included with the board.
1. After opening the hive, transfer 4 combs of bees comprising 1 comb of pollen and 3 combs of unsealed larvae* into both ½ hive boxes ensuring the queen is not on them. Insert a frame with new foundation between the pollen and larvae. Leave one standard deep box on the floor filled with the other combs of brood** and stores and the queen, any left over combs must be housed elsewhere. Place the board on top and the two ½ hive boxes on top of that. Open all three entrances on the front of the board and close or block the entrance to the main hive below. Flying bees will now reorientate to the new entrance area.
2. When all the larvae in the ½ hive boxes are more than 3 days old* insert the polycarbonate divider into one half leaving the entrance open. Close the other 2 front entrances.*** Open the back entrance****. It is best to check the combs to see no queen cells have been already started. Remove the frame with new foundation and insert newly hatched larvae in its place*****.
3. After 1 day remove the polycarbonate divider******.
4. After another 3 days the queen cells are sealed*******. Close the entrance and open the other half front entrance. Insert the polycarbonate divider. It is best to check the combs to see no queen cells have been already started. Remove the frame with new foundation and insert newly hatched larvae in its place.
5. After 1 day remove the polycarbonate divider.
6. After another 3 days the queen cells are sealed.
This cycle can then be repeated. There should now be more young larvae in the main hive that are used to refresh the ½ hive boxes.
* Larvae will attract nurse bees into the box. Ideally, the first ½ hive box to be used in the process should have combs with with more mature larvae, the second box should have combs with eggs and young larvae. The period of time to wait between step 1 and step 2 depends on the age of the youngest brood, for example, if the combs contain eggs it will be 6 days before the larvae are more than 3 days old.
** These will be older and emerging so providing immediate space for the queen to continue her laying as normal.
*** The slide will render the box queenless and the change of entrance will divert flying bees into the box. The crowding will also help initiate the queen rearing process as well as providing a direct income of pollen and nectar from the foragers. This is the optimum condition for queen rearing (providing there is nectar/syrup income and good weather).
**** This will provide access for drones to come and go.
***** These can be provided by any of the many grafting techniques.
****** This brings the colony back to a normal queenright condition but the queen cells will continue to be reared by the bees.
******* The queen cells can remain where there are until the day before expected emergence when they are distributed to mating nucleus colonies for example.
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